Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2010, Vol. 1 ›› Issue (1): 36-44.DOI: 10.3969/j.issn.1674-764x.2010.01.005

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China’s Sloping Land Conversion Program at the Beginning of
21st Century and Its Habitat Suitability in Typical
Region of Loess Plateau

DONG Jinwei1, 2, LIU Jiyuan1 and SHI Wenjiao1   

  1. 1 Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2 Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2009-12-08 Revised:2010-01-15 Online:2010-03-31 Published:2010-03-31
  • Contact: LIU Jiyuan

Abstract: The largest ecological restoration project in the form of Sloping Land Conversion Program (SLCP) been implemented for about ten years in China since 1999. Nationwide research on Sloping Land Conversion (SLC) policy needs to examine especially at the beginning of 21st century, because the project has been implemented on unprecedented scale in this period. This study tried to monitor the spatial pattern of ecological SLC using land use change dataset from human-aided interpretation of Landsat TM images. Quantity and spatial pattern of SLC (2000-2005) including two types of conversion, namely “converting cultivated land into forest” and “converting cultivated land into grassland” was analyzed. A case study of Middle and Northern Shaanxi Province, which is one of the most typical region of Loess Plateau, was investigated to analyze the rationality of the project implementation based upon the two types of conversion. The model of habitat suitability for cropping was used for the rationality evaluation of SLCP. The results showed that: (1) SLCP was concentrated mainly in the central regions of China, especially in the middle reaches of Yangtze River and Yellow River, and SLC covered nearly a half of the total cropland loss; the soil erosion zone of Loess Plateau had a large area of sloping lands which was estimated about 1162.50 km2, and more than half of them for forestation; (2) the spatial location of the projects was rational on the whole, and the cropland with lower suitability levels had a higher area proportion convered. The proportion of sloping lands conversion in marginal suitability level was the largest and covered 77.35 % of all the SLCP area, of which 603.32 km2 was converted into forest lands and 528.94 km2 of that into grasslands. There was more croplands converted into forest than into grassland. The converted cropland area with moderate suitability still had a percentage of 19.38, and the possible reason was due to the management factor and target allocation of SLCP. Furthermore, local farmers set aside cropland, and then worked in cities for more subsides. There was still a large areas of cropland unsuitable and marginally suitable, which should be considered to be converted first of all in the future.

Key words: SLCP, habitat suitability, China, the beginning of 21st century, the Loess Plateau