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Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 614; doi:10.3390/su8070614

Spatiotemporal Changes in Rural Settlement Land and Rural Population in the Middle Basin of the Heihe River, China

1
College of Earth Environmental Science, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
2
College of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Southwest University of Science and Technology, Mianyang 621010, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: David J. O’Brien
Received: 18 March 2016 / Revised: 22 June 2016 / Accepted: 28 June 2016 / Published: 29 June 2016
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Abstract

Understanding the relationship between the spatiotemporal expansion of rural settlement land and the variation of rural population is the foundation of rational and specific planning for sustainable development. Based on the integration of Landsat TM, ETM+, and OLI images and demographic data, using mathematical models, landscape indexes, and a decoupling model, the spatiotemporal changes of the rural settlement land area and its decoupling relationship with the rural registered population were analyzed for the middle basin of the Heihe River in China. During the period 1986–2014, the following changes occurred: (1) The study area experienced increases of 124.94%, 55.16%, and 1.56% in rural settlement land area, number of patches, and rural registered population, respectively; (2) Edge-expansion, dispersion, and urban encroachment were the dominant patterns of dynamic changes in the studied rural settlement land. Among these, edge-expansion was the most prevalent development pattern; it contributed more than half of the total increase in the number of patches and the total area growth; (3) The annual growth rate of the rural registered population increased from 0.7% in 1986–2002 to −0.5% in 2002–2014. By that time the rural settlement land area had undergone a gentle increase from 3.4% to 3.6%. Generally, the rural registered population and rural settlement land has experienced a shift from weakly decoupled in 1986–2009 to strongly decoupled in 2009–2014; (4) From 1986 to 2014, rural urbanization and modernization were the main causes that led to the decline in the rural registered population; however, economic growth promoted the expansion of rural settlement land during this same period. We believe that with the rapid development of urbanization, the decoupling relationship between the rural settlement land area and the reduction in the rural registered population cannot be completely reversed in the short term. It is recommended that the government should enhance the role of planning rural settlement land during the process of urbanization. View Full-Text
Keywords: rural settlement land; landscape change; rural registered population; decoupling; middle basin of the Heihe River rural settlement land; landscape change; rural registered population; decoupling; middle basin of the Heihe River
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Shi, M.; Xie, Y.; Cao, Q. Spatiotemporal Changes in Rural Settlement Land and Rural Population in the Middle Basin of the Heihe River, China. Sustainability 2016, 8, 614.

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