Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 71 ›› Issue (3): 370-389.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201603002

• Land Use • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Progress and prospect on farmland abandonment

Shengfa LI1,2(), Xiubin LI1()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2015-09-21 Revised:2015-11-20 Online:2016-03-25 Published:2016-03-25
  • Supported by:
    The NSFC-IIASA Major International Joint Research Project, No.41161140352


More and more farmland has been abandoned in many developed countries since the 1950s, and then the abandoned land further evolved into a global land use phenomenon, which deeply changed the landscape in vast rural areas. "Land use change-driving mechanism-impacts & consequences-policy response" in global farmland abandonment were reviewed and the results indicated that: (1) Farmland abandonments mainly occurred in developed countries of Europe and North America, but the extent to which varied distinctly. (2) Socio-economic factors were the primary driving forces for the farmland abandonment. And land marginalization was the root cause of land abandonment, which was due to the drastic increase of farming opportunity cost, while the direct factor of abandonment was the decline of agricultural labor forces. (3) Whether to abandon, to what extent and its spatial distributions were finally dependent on combined effect from the physical conditions, labor characteristics, farming and regional socio-economic conditions at village, household and parcel scales. Farmland abandonment was more likely to occur in mountainous and hilly areas except for Eastern Europe due the unfavorable farming conditions. (4) Ecological and environmental effects should be the focus on the study of farmland abandonment, while which is positive or negative are still in dispute. (5) The increase of agricultural subsidies indeed will be conductive to slow down the farmland abandonment, but it is not the only and reasonable method.

Due to rapid urbanization in China, there will be a high probability of abandonment expansion in the near future. However, few researches focused on this rapid land-use trend in China, leading to inadequate understandings of dynamic mechanism and consequences of this phenomenon. Thus, in the end of the paper, some directions of future research in China were presented: regional and national monitoring of abandonment dynamics, trend and risk assessment, social-economic effects assessment and informed policymaking.

Key words: farmland abandonment, farmland marginalization, LUCC, research progress and prospect