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Remote Sens. 2014, 6(10), 9895-9910; doi:10.3390/rs6109895

Is Forest Restoration in the Southwest China Karst Promoted Mainly by Climate Change or Human-Induced Factors?

1
State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information Systems, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A Datun Rd., Beijing 100101, China
2
East China Normal University, 3663 Zhongshan Rd., Shanghai 200062, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 July 2014 / Revised: 25 September 2014 / Accepted: 1 October 2014 / Published: 17 October 2014
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Abstract

The Southwest China Karst, the largest continuous karst zone in the world, has suffered serious rock desertification due to the large population pressure in the area. Recent trend analyses have indicated general greening trends in this region. The region has experienced mild climate change, and yet significant land use changes, such as afforestation and reforestation. In addition, out-migration has occurred. Whether climate change or human-induced factors, i.e., ecological afforestation projects and out-migration have primarily promoted forest restoration in this region was investigated in this study, using Guizhou Province as the study area. Based on Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data, we found general greening trends of the forest from 2000 to 2010. About 89% of the forests have experienced an increase in the annual NDVI, and among which, about 41% is statistically significant. For the summer season, more than 65% of the forests have increases in summer NDVI, and about 16% of the increases are significant. The strongest greening trends mainly occurred in the karst areas. Meanwhile, annual average and summer average temperature in this region have increased and the precipitation in most of the region has decreased, although most of these changes were not statistically significant (p > 0.1). A site-based regression analysis using 19 climate stations with minimum land use changes showed that a warming climate coupled with a decrease in precipitation explained some of the changes in the forest NDVI, but the results were not conclusive. The major changes were attributed to human-induced factors, especially in the karst areas. The implications of an ecological afforestation project and out-migration for forest restoration were also discussed, and the need for further investigations at the household level to better understand the out-migration–environment relationship was identified. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest greening; climate change; ecological afforestation project; out-migration; Southwest China karst forest greening; climate change; ecological afforestation project; out-migration; Southwest China karst
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Cai, H.; Yang, X.; Wang, K.; Xiao, L. Is Forest Restoration in the Southwest China Karst Promoted Mainly by Climate Change or Human-Induced Factors? Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 9895-9910.

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