Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (5): 863-874.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201705008

• Land Use and Environmental Change • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Evaluating the potential of vegetation restoration in the Loess Plateau

Haidong GAO1(), Guowei PANG2, Zhanbin LI1,3(), Shengdong CHENG1   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory Base of Eco-hydraulic Engineering in Arid Area, Xi'an University of Technology,Xi'an 710048, China
    2. College of Urban and Environmental Science, Northwest University, Xi'an 710127, China
    3. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Agriculture on Loess Plateau, Institute ofSoil and Water Conservation, CAS and Ministry of Water Resources, Yangling 712100, Shaanxi, China
  • Received:2016-10-25 Revised:2017-03-20 Online:2017-05-20 Published:2017-05-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41401305, No.51609196;National Key Research and Development Program of China, No.2016YFC0402406-ZT2


The "Grain for Green" project has been initiated in the Loess Plateau since 1999, and would be continuously promoted in the future. Therefore, it is of important significance to assess the vegetation restoration and its potential in the Loess Plateau. In this paper, based on the SPOT VEG NDVI dataset, the trend analysis, Hurst exponent method, statistical methods and geographical spatial analysis technology were adopted. Results showed that NDVI from 1999 to 2013 had a significant upward trend and the vegetation of 2/3 of the area would continue to improve. In loessal areas, the analysis of vegetation response curve indicated that vegetation coverage had a significant exponential relationship with drought index. Such relationship of gentle slope was more obvious than that of steep slope. The best vegetation response function of soil and rock-mountainous areas was linear function. Its correlation coefficient was lower than that of loessal areas. In the future, the average vegetation restoration potential of the Loess Plateau could reach 69.75%, which was high in the southeast and low in the northwest of the plateau. The region with better vegetation restoration would have lower vegetation restoration potential index. The vegetation restoration potential was mainly concentrated in the northern sandy land as well as in the western hilly and gully area. Subsequently, the differences of vegetation restoration rate for this region under different precipitation thresholds were remarkable, among which the area with precipitation of 375-450 mm had fast vegetation restoration. The measures "adaptation to water conditions" should be taken so as to avoid soil drying for afforestation. The results provided scientific support for the construction of ecological civilization on the Loess Plateau.

Key words: Loess Plateau, potential of vegetation restoration, NDVI, trend analysis, vegetation response curve