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Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1471; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051471

The Impact of Ecological Restoration Projects in Dry Lands: Data-based Assessment and Human Perceptions in the Lower Reaches of Heihe River Basin, China

1
Graduate Program in Sustainability Science–Global Leadership Initiative, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Kashiwa 277-8563, Japan
2
Department of Socio-Cultural Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Kashiwa 277-8563, Japan
3
Department of International Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Kashiwa 277-8563, Japan
4
Advanced Systems Analysis Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg A-2361, Austria
5
Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8654, Japan
6
Faculty of Liberal Arts, Tokyo City University, Tokyo 158-8557, Japan
7
Faculty of International Studies and Regional Development, University of Niigata Prefecture, Niigata 950-8680, Japan
8
Faculty of Agriculture, Okayama University, Okayama 700-8530, Japan
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 April 2018 / Revised: 28 April 2018 / Accepted: 2 May 2018 / Published: 8 May 2018
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Abstract

Desertification is a critical environmental problem in China’s northwestern region. In this context, since the early 2000s, projects targeting ecological restoration have been implemented in the lower reaches of the Heihe River basin. Using multi-scale remote sensing data and field observations, this paper examines the outcomes of the ecological restoration projects. Specifically, this paper examines the vegetation change through remote sensing and local perceptions of the projects through semi-structured questionnaires. The results from remote sensing reveal that during the restoration projects, vegetation coverage in riparian areas of the lower reaches of the Heihe River basin increased. However, this increase cannot be simply equated with ecological recovery. Expansion of farmland and afforested areas have also contributed to the increase in vegetation coverage. Questionnaire results reveal that although locals perceived improvements in the ecological conditions of the lower reaches, most of them were more about future environmental changes. Additionally, results indicate that ecological restoration projects redistributed water resources in the local river reaches and, as a result, local residents living in riparian areas perceive greater benefit. Therefore, the implementation of the project may have actually negatively impacted the water accessibility of those living in the drier Gobi Desert areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: ecological restoration; policy assessment; vegetation response; environmental perceptions; ecological changes; NDVI ecological restoration; policy assessment; vegetation response; environmental perceptions; ecological changes; NDVI
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Zhou, T.; Akiyama, T.; Horita, M.; Kharrazi, A.; Kraines, S.; Li, J.; Yoshikawa, K. The Impact of Ecological Restoration Projects in Dry Lands: Data-based Assessment and Human Perceptions in the Lower Reaches of Heihe River Basin, China. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1471.

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