Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2008, Vol. 63 ›› Issue (12): 1327-1336.doi: 10.11821/xb200812010

Previous Articles    

Establishment and Application of Human Settlements Environment Index Model (HEI) Based on GIS

FENG Zhiming1, TANG Yan1,2, YANG Yanzhao1, ZHANG Dan1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2008-03-11 Revised:2008-09-25 Online:2008-12-25 Published:2008-12-25
  • Supported by:

    Knowledge Innovation Program of the CAS, No.KZCX2-YW- 323, National Key Technology R&D Program, No. 2006BAC18B01


With the degeneration of environment and acceleration of urbanization, human settlements have attracted great attention worldwide. For the necessity of natural environment evaluation of human settlements, by choosing terrain, land cover, climate and water condition as the evaluation factors, based on Geographic Information System technique, this paper sets up the human settlements environment index (HEI) model and evaluates the natural environment suitability of human settlements in China with it. The results show that: the HEI of China decreases from southeast to northwest in general, which reflects the regional difference of natural environment suitability of human settlements in China; and HEI is significantly correlated with population density at grid size and the R2 value for them amounts to 0.87, which indicates that natural environment suitability of human settlements has a significant influence on population distribution. From southeast to northwest and from hilly regions and plains to plateaus and mountainous areas, the natural environment suitability of human settlements in China decreases in general. Specifically, the high suitable region, with a land area of 95.92×104 km2 and a population of 380 million, is mainly located in Southeast Hilly Region and most parts of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River; most parts of Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and Sichuan Basin, Guanzhong Basin and southern part of North China Plain belong to the moderate suitable region, accounting for 1/6 of a land area and one half of population of China; with a land area of 167.78×104 km2 and a population of 226 million, the low suitable region mainly includes Northeast China Plain, northern part of North China Plain and Loess Plateau; eastern part of Tibetan Plateau, Junggar Basin and Inner Mongolia Plateau belong to the critical suitable region, covering a land area of 225.11×104 km2, and 41 million people live in this region; and the non-suitable region mainly includes most parts of Tibetan Plateau, Tarim Basin and Alex Plateau, where the land area is 304.42 km2, but there are only 2.49 million people. From the high suitable to the non-suitable region, the land area increases with the decrease of population density, indicating that the population in China is mainly concentrated in natural environment suitable region.

Key words: human settlements, human settlements environment index, natural environment suitability, GIS, China