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Miao, Lijuan
Zhu, Feng
Sun, Zhanli
Moore, John C.
Cui, Xuefeng
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[Journal:] International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health [ISSN:] 1660-4601 [Volume:] 13 [Issue:] 9 [Pages:] 1-16
Understanding the processes of historical land-use change is crucial to the research of global environmental sustainability. Here we examine and attempt to disentangle the evolutionary interactions between land-use change and its underlying causes through a historical lens. We compiled and synthesized historical land-use change and various biophysical, political, socioeconomic, and technical datasets, from the Qing dynasty to modern China. The analysis reveals a clear transition period between the 1950s and the 1980s. Before the 1950s, cropland expanded while forested land diminished, which was also accompanied by increasing population; after the 1980s land-use change exhibited new characteristics: changes in cropland, and decoupling of forest from population as a result of agricultural intensification and globalization. Chinese political policies also played an important and complex role, especially during the 1950s–1980s transition periods. Overall, climate change plays an indirect but fundamental role in the dynamics of land use via a series of various cascading effects such as shrinking agricultural production proceeding to population collapse and outbreaks of war. The expected continuation of agricultural intensification this century should be able to support increasing domestic demand for richer diets, but may not be compatible with long-term environmental sustainability.
land use transition
human-environment interaction
driving factor
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