Synthesis of China's land use in the past 300 years

Synthesis of China's land use in the past 300 years
Lijuan Miaoa, Feng Zhua, Bin Hea, Marion Ferrata, Qiang Liua, Xue Caob, Xuefeng Cuia
a State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, 100875, China;
b College of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, 210093, China.
Abstract: China's land use has undergone many changes over the past 300 years due to the significant transformations caused by natural and human factors and their impact on regional climate and the environment. This comprehensive review of recent state-of-the-art studies of China's land-use changes during that period concentrates on cropland, forest, grassland and urban areas. While most small-scale studies have reconstructed information from historical archive data and focused on a specific time period, large-scale studies have tended to rely on inverse modeling techniques to interpret land-use change dynamics based on remote-sensing data for example, the global land-use products of the History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE) and Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) datasets. All studies have shown that the cropland areas in China increased between 1700 and 1950, although they indicate different magnitudes and rates. A decrease in forest coverage was also reported in all studies. Little information was available on urban and grassland areas over the same period. Rapid urbanization in China has been particularly evident in the past 50 years. Meanwhile, spatially explicit reconstructions of historical land-use change in China since 1700 remain highly uncertain due to the lack of reliable data. Extensive work on primary data collection is required, including land-use records and drivers for future change.
Keywords: China; 300 years; spatial reconstruction; cropland; forest; urban; grassland.
Published in Global and Planetary Change. 2013, 100: 224-233.