Reevaluating Cultivated Land in China: Method and Case Studies

  • 1. Department of Resources, Environment and Geography, The Center for Land Study, Peking University; Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, The Ministry of Education, Beijing 100871, China;
    2. Office of Ministry of Land and Resources, P.R. China, Beijing 100037, China

Received date: 2006-04-08

  Revised date: 2006-05-20

  Online published: 2006-10-25

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40571002


The basic cause of continuous cultivated land conversion is the comparatively low benefit of its agricultural use. Therefore, the main approaches to establishing the conservation mechanism of cultivated land are to heighten the comparative income of agricultural use of cultivated land on the one hand, and to enhance the cost of cultivated land conversion on the other hand. The two approaches are summarized into the re-evaluation of cultivated land resource. This article argues that cultivated land resource is actually provided with economic output value, ecological service value and social guarantee value, and all of them can be re-evaluated by market price respectively. The economic output value of cultivated land is the quotient of its annual benefit divided by discount rate. The ecological service value of cultivated land is the quotient of its annual ecosystem service value divided by discount rate. The social guarantee value of cultivated land is the sum of its provisions of endowment insurance for the aged and of guarantee for employment. Three cases representing various environmental conditions and social development levels are studied respectively in the article so as to reveal the regional differentiation among the east, the middle and the west of China. They are Chao'an county of Guangdong Province, Huaiyang county of Henan Province and Huining county of Gansu Province. The results show that the values of cultivated land resource are obviously different among the three case areas and present the higher feature in the east and the lower in the west. Regarding the composition of values of cultivated land resource, social value makes up more than 60% of the total in all of the three areas. Yet the proportion of social value is higher in the west and lower in the east, demonstrating that the dependent degree of peasant upon cultivated land resource reversely relates with the level of socio-economic development. The proportion of economic output value to the total value is higher in the east and lower in the west, showing the difference of productivity resulted from natural and economical conditions. The proportion of ecological service value to the total value is higher in the west and lower in the east, because the ecosystem of the west is simpler so that the farmland ecosystem is relatively more important in the western eco-environment. Agricultural land use provides a huge amount of exterior benefit for the society. This can become an important reason for practicing agricultural subsidies, and also become a basis for calculating the amount of subsidies. Moreover, this should be used as a basis for enhancing the compensation of levied cultivated land. In the present period in China, cultivated land serves as the major resource livelihood for majority of the farmers. Under the conditions of faultiness and even absence of rural social guarantee system, the social guarantee value of cultivated land could not be ignored.

Cite this article

CAI Yunlong,Huo Yaqin . Reevaluating Cultivated Land in China: Method and Case Studies[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2006 , 61(10) : 1084 -1092 . DOI: 10.11821/xb200610008


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