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Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1171; doi:10.3390/su9071171

Social Vulnerability Assessment by Mapping Population Density and Pressure on Cropland in Shandong Province in China during the 17th–20th Century

1
School of Geography, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
2
Key Laboratory of Environment Change and Natural Disaster, Ministry of Education, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 May 2017 / Revised: 27 June 2017 / Accepted: 30 June 2017 / Published: 5 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agricultural and Climate Change)
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Abstract

Cropland area per capita and pressure index on cropland are important parameters for measuring the social vulnerability and sustainability from the perspective of food security in a certain region in China during the historical periods. This study reconstructed the change in spatial distribution of cropland area per labor/household and pressure index on cropland during the 17th–20th century by using historical documents, regression analysis, pressure index model, and GIS (geographic information system). Following this, we analyzed the impacting process of climate change and sustainability of cropland use during the different periods. The conclusions of this study are as follows: (i) there was an obvious spatial difference of labor/household density, as there was higher density in three agricultural areas, which had the same pattern as cropland distribution during the same periods; (ii) Cropland area per capita was relatively higher during the 17th–18th century, which were above 0.4 ha/person in the majority of counties and were distributed homogenously. Until the 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, cropland area per capita in a considerable proportion of regions decreased below 0.2 ha/person, which embodies the increase in social vulnerability and unsustainability at that time; (iii) The pressure index on cropland also showed a spatial pattern similar to cropland area per capita, which presented as having a lower threshold than nowadays. During the 17th–18th century, there was no pressure on cropland. In comparison, in the 19th century and at the beginning of 20th century, two high-value centers of pressure index on cropland appeared in the Middle Shandong and the Jiaodong region. As a result, pressure on cropland use increased and a food crisis was likely to have been created; (iv) A higher extent of sustainable cropland use corresponded to the cold period, while a lower extent of sustainable cropland use corresponded to the warm period in Shandong over the past 300 years. The turning point of the 1680s from dry to wet was not distinctively attributed to the decrease in the extent of sustainable cropland use in Shandong. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the increasing pressure on the sustainability of cropland use finally intensified the social conflict and increased the probability of social revolts. View Full-Text
Keywords: pressure on cropland; labor/household density; Shandong Province in China; 17th–20th century pressure on cropland; labor/household density; Shandong Province in China; 17th–20th century
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Ye, Y.; Wei, X.; Fang, X.; Li, Y. Social Vulnerability Assessment by Mapping Population Density and Pressure on Cropland in Shandong Province in China during the 17th–20th Century. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1171.

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