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Changes in the Ecological Footprint of Rural Populations in the Taihang Mountains, China

by 1,2, 1, 2,3,*, 2,4 and 2,4
1
College of Geomatics, Shandong University of Science and Technology, Qingdao 266590, China
2
Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
3
International College, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10049, China
4
College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3741; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103741
Received: 14 August 2018 / Revised: 11 October 2018 / Accepted: 15 October 2018 / Published: 17 October 2018
Due to massive rural–urban migration, population size and age structure are subject to significant changes in the mountainous areas of China. This can influence the ecological pressure of the mountainous areas correspondingly. In particular, large numbers of young laborers migrate from rural areas, which may greatly decrease the intensity of local human activities. However, it is still unclear how population changes (size and age structure) affect environmental changes and how to measure these changes. We analyzed changes in the ecological footprint (EF) in the Taihang Mountain region in northern China using field survey data. From 2000 to 2016, the population size in the study area decreased by 9.7%, while the EF declined by 32.1%. The EF per capita (EF_per) decreased more rapidly with decreasing elevation, which indicated that at lower elevations, households were less dependent on local resources. For households with more elderly people, the EF_per was considerably lower than for other households in 2000. However, in 2016, this was not the case, and the households with a share of the working-age population between 50–75% had the lowest EF_per. Our study is of great practical significance for reasonably guiding population migration and rural sustainable development. View Full-Text
Keywords: rural-urban migration; ecological footprint; mountainous area of China; age structure rural-urban migration; ecological footprint; mountainous area of China; age structure
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Xiao, X.; Hu, M.; Tan, M.; Li, X.; Li, W. Changes in the Ecological Footprint of Rural Populations in the Taihang Mountains, China. Sustainability 2018, 10, 3741.

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