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Sustainability 2016, 8(2), 184; doi:10.3390/su8020184

Have Changes to Unused Land in China Improved or Exacerbated Its Environmental Quality in the Past Three Decades?

1
Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Audrey L. Mayer
Received: 15 December 2015 / Revised: 4 February 2016 / Accepted: 14 February 2016 / Published: 20 February 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [4569 KB, uploaded 20 February 2016]   |  

Abstract

Inappropriate land use has caused a series of environmental disasters such as floods and sand storms, and some of them involved unused land changes with highly localized distributions in arid and semi-arid regions with fragile ecosystems. As the third-rank category of first-level land use/cover in China, unused land (UL) is now playing an increasingly important role in protection of the natural environment and sustainable utilization of land resources. In this article, we assessed the effects on regional eco-environments employing a quantitative EL (ecological effect index) model, which can be used to evaluate and represent the contribution of UL changes to the eco-environmental quality. Results show that UL changes generally contributed to the deterioration of eco-environmental quality during the study period. Some major contributors to improving eco-environmental quality were transformation of sandy land and saline-alkali lands to grasslands, expansion of water bodies in UL areas, and reclamation of farmland in UL areas (except for marsh lands). In contrast, the main contributors to worsening eco-environmental quality were grassland degradation to UL (except marshes), reclamation of marsh areas, and shrinkage of water bodies to leave desert or saline-alkali land. Some suggestions are provided about UL management, utilization, and protection issues. View Full-Text
Keywords: land use/cover; eco-environmental response; unused land; ecological restoration projects; grassland degradation; reclamation land use/cover; eco-environmental response; unused land; ecological restoration projects; grassland degradation; reclamation
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Yi, L.; Zhang, Z.; Zhao, X.; Liu, B.; Wang, X.; Wen, Q.; Zuo, L.; Liu, F.; Xu, J.; Hu, S. Have Changes to Unused Land in China Improved or Exacerbated Its Environmental Quality in the Past Three Decades? Sustainability 2016, 8, 184.

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