Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 69 ›› Issue (1): 3-14.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201401001

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Spatiotemporal characteristics, patterns and causes of land use changes in China since the late 1980s

LIU Jiyuan1, KUANG Wenhui1, ZHANG Zengxiang2, XU Xinliang1, QIN Yuanwei1,3, NING Jia1,3, ZHOU Wancun4, ZHANG Shuwen5, LI Rendong6, YAN Changzhen7, WU Shixin8, SHI Xuezheng9, JIANG Nan10, YU Dongsheng9, PAN Xianzhang9, CHI Wenfeng1,3   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
    4. Chengdu Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS, Chengdu 610041, China;
    5. Northeast Institute of Geography and Agricultural Ecology, CAS, Changchun 130012, China;
    6. Wuhan Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics, CAS, Wuhan 430077, China;
    7. Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China;
    8. Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China;
    9. Institute of Soil Science, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China;
    10. Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China
  • Received:2013-07-29 Revised:2013-11-08 Online:2014-01-20 Published:2014-01-20
  • Supported by:
    National Basic Research Program of China, No.2010CB950900; No.2014CB954302; National Key Technology R&D Program, No.2013BAC03B00; The Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences No.KSZD-EW-Z-021-02

Abstract: Land-Use/land Cover Changes (LUCC) are a direct consequence of human and nature interactions. China's Land Use/cover Datasets (CLUD) were updated regularly at five-year intervals from the late 1980s to the year of 2010 with standard procedures based on Landsat TM/ETM + images. A dynamic zoning method was proposed to analyze major land-use conversions. The spatiotemporal characteristics, differences, and causes of land-use changes at a national scale were then examined. The main findings are summarized as follows: Land-Use Changes (LUC) across China indicated a significant variation in spatial and temporal characteristics in the past 20 years between the 20th and 21st centuries. The amount of cropland change decreased in the south and increased in the north, but the total area remained almost unchanged. The reclaimed cropland was shifted from northeast to northwest. The built-up lands were expanded rapidly, which were mainly distributed in the east and gradually spread out to the midwest. Woodland decreased first and then increased, but desert area was inverted. Grassland continued decreasing. Different spatial patterns of LUC in China were found between the late 20th century and the early 21st century. The original 13 LUC zones were replaced by 15 units with changes of boundaries in some zones. The main spatial characteristics of these changes included (1) an accelerated expansion of built-up land in the Huang-Huai-Hai region, the coastal areas of southeastern China, the midstream area of the Yangtze River, and the Sichuan Basin; (2) the shifted land reclamation in the north from Northeast China and eastern Inner Mongolia to the oasis agricultural areas in Northwest China; (3) the continuous transform from rain-fed farmlands in Northeast China to paddy fields; and (4) the effectiveness of the “Grain-for-Green” project in the southern agricultural-pastoral ecotones of Inner Mongolia, the Loess Plateau, and mountainous areas of southwestern China. In recent two decades, although climate change in the north impacted the change in cropland, policy regulation and economic driving forces were still the primary causes of LUC across China. During the first decade of the 21st century, the anthropogenic factors that drove variations in land-use patterns have shifted the emphasis from one-way land development to both development and conservation. The "dynamic zoning method" was used to analyze changes in the spatial patterns of zoning boundaries, the internal characteristics of zones, and the growth and decrease of units. The results revealed "the pattern of the change process," namely the process of LUC and regional differences in characteristics at different stages. The growth and decrease of zones during this dynamic LUC zoning, variations in unit boundaries, and the characteristics of change intensities between the former and latter decades were examined. The patterns of alternative transformation between the "pattern" and "process" of land use and the reasons for changes in different types and different regions of land use were explored.

Key words: satellite remote sensing, characteristics, spatial pattern, land use change, China