Green development is an important way to achieve global sustainable development goals, and has become one of the main research hotspots in recent years. Balancing economic development and environmental protection has turned out to be a great challenge in Beijing, the capital of China, which can provide some suggestions on ecological civilization construction and green development for other cities. However, there have been limited studies on this crucial topic. Therefore, based on the statistical data for Beijing from 2006 to 2016, this paper constructed the green development evaluation system of Beijing, and used the Projection Pursuit Model and spatial analysis method to analyze the spatial and temporal changes in its green development level. We also aimed to further explore the influences of key factors on green development. Our results illustrated that: (1) the overall and average levels of green development in Beijing showed significant increasing trends; (2) there are obvious spatial differences in green development among districts in Beijing, with the outer districts showing higher values; and (3) the environmental condition and human consumption were two important factors driving the green development in Beijing.
With the development of tourism, the number of tourists and the scope of tourism activities are increasing, and the impact of tourism on the ecological environment is gradually revealed. The ecological environment is the foundation of sustainable tourism development. Some tourist destinations lack systematic and scientific evaluation and the proper planning of tourism resources, which makes it difficult for local areas to cope with the influx of a large number of people. In these destinations, the internal system is perturbed by a series of disturbances, which leads to bad effects on the local ecological environment. In addition to endangering the development of tourism, the quality of life of local residents is also threatened. Consequently, the issues between tourism and environment have become a hot topic in the field of tourism research. Through the collection of domestic and foreign tourism literature related to ecological theories since 1990 to 2020, the status of the application of various ecological theories in the field of tourism is revealed, such as life cycle theory, landscape ecology theory, carrying capacity theory, biodiversity, ecological niche theory and ecological footprint theory. This analysis found that the application of these theories to tourism mainly focuses on empirical research, and there are few studies on the basic theories related to it. In the empirical research, innovation of the research methods is basically absent. Therefore, future research should pay more attention to the theoretical research of ecological theory in the field of tourism, and combine modern science and technology in the practical application to strengthen the innovation of research methods. In addition, the prospect of applying ecological theories in future tourism research is discussed.
The accurate simulation and prediction of grassland aboveground biomass (AGB) and theoretical livestock carrying capacity are key steps for maintaining ecosystem balance and sustainable grassland management. The AGB in fenced grassland is not affected by grazing and its variability is only driven by climate change, which can be regarded as the grassland potential AGB (AGBp). In this study, we compiled the data for 345 AGB field observations in fenced grasslands and their corresponding climate data, soil data, and topographical data on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (TP). We further simulated and predicted grassland AGBp and theoretical livestock carrying capacity under the climate conditions of the past (2000-2018) and future two decades (2021-2040) based on a random forest (RF) algorithm. The results showed that simulated AGBp matched well with observed values in the field (R2 = 0.76, P < 0.001) in the past two decades. The average grassland AGBp on the Tibetan Plateau was 102.4 g m-2, and the inter-annual changes in AGBp during this period showed a non-significant increasing trend. AGBp fluctuation was positively correlated with growing season precipitation (R2 = 0.57, P < 0.001), and negatively correlated with the growing season diurnal temperature range (R2 = 0.51, P < 0.001). The average theoretical livestock carrying capacity was 0.94 standardized sheep units (SSU) ha-1 on the TP, in which about 54.1% of the areas showed an increasing trend during the past two decades. Compared with the past two decades, the theoretical livestock carrying capacity showed a decreasing trend in the future, which was mainly distributed in the central and northern TP. This study suggested that targeted planning and management should be carried out to alleviate the forage-livestock contradiction in grazing systems on the Tibetan Plateau.
The Conversion of Farmland to Forests and Grasses Project is the most symbolic and globally important ecological engineering effort to build the human and natural life community. After the call and mobilization stage since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the first round of Conversion of Farmland to Forests and Grasses occurred at the end of the 20th century. With the second round of Conversion of Farmland to Forests And Grasses launched in 2014, the central government has invested 535.3 billion yuan altogether by 2020, and 34.83 million ha have been returned to forest and grassland in 25 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) (2435 counties included). Among them, 14.23 million ha were returned from farmland; barren hills and wasteland afforestation accounted for 17.53 million ha; and sealed mountain forest cultivation represented 3.07 million ha, accounting for 40% of the total afforestation area of national key projects in the same period, and 41 million households and 158 million farmers benefited directly. The project construction has made great achievements. The total value of ecological benefits has reached 1.42 trillion yuan, plus economic benefits of 0.26 trillion yuan, and social benefits of 0.73 trillion yuan, for a total amount of 2.41 trillion yuan. This effort has made outstanding contributions toward building an ecological civilization and a beautiful China. Looking forward to the future, the Conversion of Farmland to Forests and Grasses will embark on a new stage of high-quality development, which will strive to achieve high-quality construction, high efficiency and a high level of management. China will promote the third round of conversion of farmland to forest and grassland from 2021 to 2035, and it is expected to return 6.67 million ha to forests and grasses.
In order to construct stable vegetation for reducing wind and sand disasters and soil erosion in the Bashang Area of Northwest Hebei Province in China, it is very important to understand the ecological water demand of different vegetation types in this area. Based on observed data and the Irmak-Allen formula, we investigated the ecological water demand and ecological water shortage of arbor, shrub and grassland in Bashang Area of northwestern Hebei province. The results showed that the actual evapotranspiration values of the three vegetation types in the growing seasons in the study area from high to low were arbor forest (401.81 mm), shrub (358.78 mm) and grassland (346.02 mm). The minimum ecological water requirements of arbor forest, shrub and grassland in the growing season were 243.96 mm, 218.35 mm and 211.36 mm, respectively, and the optimal ecological water requirements were 472.99 mm, 423.34 mm and 409.77 mm, respectively. In addition, the optimal ecological water shortage values were 198.56 mm for arbor forest, 148.91 mm for shrub and 135.34 mm for grassland. The ecological water shortage of vegetation has obvious seasonality, with the largest water shortage in May and June, and a lower and steady water surplus in July to October. Therefore, an artificial water supplementation in May and June would alleviate the drought stress of the vegetation. The rainfall in Bashang Area of Northwest Hebei Province can meet the requirements of minimum ecological water demand for arbor forest, but the gap between the rainfall and the optimal ecological water requirement is too large to support good growth of an arbor forest, which could explain why the degradation of poplar protective forests has occurred in Bashang Area.
The cushion plant Androsace tapete is an endemic species that is widely distributed in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, and also predominant in the alpine grassland that is locally degraded due to overgrazing and other reasons. As an ecosystem engineer cushion plant, its ability to facilitate the restoration of degraded alpine grassland was studied in a degraded alpine grassland at an elevation of 4500 m on the southern slope of the Nyainqentanglha Mountains in Damxung. The species diversity, soil nutrients and water content underneath and outside the cushion plant A. tapete were investigated. The results showed that soil nutrients underneath the A. tapete cushion were significantly increased by about 16%-48% compared to outside the cushion, of which the organic matter and total N were increased by 16.2% and 18.9% respectively, and the soil water content was increased about 12%. The index of species diversity of richness (S), Shannon-Wiener’s H and Simpson’s D all increased with the coverage of cushion plant A. tapete. Our results suggested that this cushion plant can facilitate restoration of the degraded alpine grassland by modifying the local soil environment and increasing the community diversity, so it should be conserved for the restoration of degraded alpine grasslands on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.
Forests are the main components of terrestrial ecosystems and play an important role in the protection and construction of the national ecological security barrier. For a long time, China's large-scale afforestation had been practiced in areas with rainfall higher than the 400 mm threshold, but the issue of afforestation in high altitudes on the Tibetan Plateau remains elusive in both practical experience and theoretical exploration. It is worth thinking further about what principles should be followed in the selection of tree species and suitable altitudes for afforestation in high-altitude areas, as well as what experiences and lessons of previous afforestation efforts should be applied in high-altitude areas. As per the law of vegetation zonal distribution, this paper argues that afforestation at high altitudes should comply with the principle of vegetation zonal distribution and the low temperature limitation, and points out that afforestation is feasible only within the forest distribution area and below the altitudes of climate timberlines. Furthermore, we demonstrate the potential spatial areas of afforestation, and determine the local tree species that may be used for afforestation based on the existing problems of afforestation in eastern Tibet. In summary, afforestation in high-altitude areas of the eastern Tibetan Plateau must comply with the law of zonal vegetation distribution, focus on the upper limit of altitude and the selection of suitable tree species, and adopt only suitable native tree species.
Agricultural production is considered one of the most important sources of water quality deterioration in the Taihu Lake Basin, China. Crop farming, livestock & poultry breeding and aquaculture are primary agricultural non-point sources and their impacts on the water environment are, in most cases, evaluated separately. Therefore, it is a challenge for current research to consider all of the different agricultural non-point sources as a whole and assess their combined influence on the water environment. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the conjoint impact that agricultural non-point sources such as crop farming, livestock & poultry breeding and aquaculture have had on the local water environment in the Taihu Lake Basin by taking Huzhou City of Zhejiang Province as a case study. To achieve this, a new, innovative approach named the “Waste Absorption Footprint” (WAF) is applied. The results show that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution generated by agricultural production are more serious than that of organic substances, while aquaculture and crop farming are more critical pollution sources compared with livestock and poultry breeding, and so they should be the focus of environmental management and pollution control initiatives. There is a regional discrepancy in the spatial distribution of agricultural non-point source pollution across counties and districts, which provides information for determining the key regions for the treatment of agricultural pollution. This study demonstrates that the WAF method can make a comprehensive assessment of the influence of agricultural production on the water environment and provide references for the control and management of agricultural non-point source pollution, which is of great importance for management of the water environment.
Ecological compensation is an important part of ecological civilization which has gained widespread attention in academia in recent years. This study uses the knowledge graph tool CiteSpace to identify and analyze the literature related to ecological compensation research published in academic journals in the CNKI database, in order to provide an objective and scientific reference for the research in this field. The results show that the domestic research on ecological compensation began to appear around 2000, and the first research boom was ushered in starting in 2009. Most studies have explored ecological compensation from the connotation of ecological compensation, compensation subjects and objects, compensation standards, compensation methods, compensation supervision and evaluation of compensation effects, etc., and the articles on ecological compensation standards are relatively more abundant. At the same time, ecological compensation research is often linked to the realization of ecosystem service value and ecological product value. In the future, researchers should focus on establishing and improving the ecological compensation standard accounting system, exploring the market-based ecological compensation mechanism, attaching importance to the ecological compensation fund distribution mechanism, and strengthening research related to ecological compensation effect assessment. Ecological compensation theory should be developed in the direction of deepening and providing new research perspectives for helping China to deal with the relationship between conservation and development.
Ecosystem services have rapidly changed at the global and regional scales in recent years. Exploring the driving mechanisms of ecosystem services change and projecting future change are of increasing importance to inform policy and decision-making options for ecosystem conservation and sustainable use. Although some research has analyzed the influences of land use or climate changes on ecosystem services, a systematic review on the mechanisms of ecosystem services change has not been carried out so far. This work elaborated on the mechanisms of ecosystem services change based on a literature review, and reached four main conclusions. (1) Climate change and land use jointly determine the ecosystem services change through complex and interacting pathways. (2) Whereas the present research progresses mainly focus on the identification of a single influencing factor, they fail in the determination of multiple influencing factors. (3) Although multi-scenario simulations based on remote sensing and climate models are the main means used to predict future changes in ecosystem services, clarifying the interactive mechanisms of multiple factors is the precondition for future projection of ecosystem services change; (4) Therefore, future research should strengthen the analysis and simulation of the effects of human activities on ecosystem services, especially the development of technology to detect the dynamic responses of ecosystem services to major ecological projects, which is crucial to the selection of restoration measures and the regional arrangement of ecosystem conservation projects.
Invasive species and habitat degradation are the main reasons for freshwater biodiversity loss. Reports on the habitat degradation and invasion ecology of Red Swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) are few, although it is one of the most devastating invasive species in freshwater ecosystems. Based on a three-year investigation during 2017-2019 in West Dongting Lake, this study used Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Generalized Linear Model (GLM) and Bayesian model to analyze the relationships of P. clarkii stocks and environment factors in natural and modified wetlands. The results showed that the abundance of P. clarkii was positively correlated with total nitrogen, total phosphorus, water temperature, pH, water depth, and water transparency; while it was negatively correlated with dissolved oxygen and redox potential. The difference between P. clarkii stocks in natural and modified wetlands was nonsignificant. The P. clarkii stock decreased yearly, as levels in both 2018 and 2019 were significantly lower than in 2017. We concluded that inter-annual variation of the hydrological regime plays an important role in P. clarkii dynamics, and thus it is of great importance to ensure that the water level and flow velocity in summer to control the invasive P. clarkii.
As a new type of heritage, Agricultural Heritage Systems (AHS), represented by Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) designated by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (NIAHS) designated by some countries’ Ministry of Agriculture, are typical Social-Ecological Systems (SES), which usually are rich in biodiversity, traditional knowledge, resource utilization technology and outstanding cultural landscapes. Cultural Keystone Species (CKS) are defined as the culturally salient species that shape the cultural identity of a people in a major way. CKS can be used as a prominent tool for the synergistic conservation of SES biology and culture, and to promote the overall enhancement of system functions. This paper summarizes a review of the definition of the CKS and its application in SES conservation. According to the characteristics and protection needs of AHS, this paper defined the CKS in AHS as: “Composites of biological resources and cultural practices, which have a significant impact on the stability of local society and culture systems, contribute to the achievement of AHS’ conservation goals.” Based on this definition, we analyzed the significance of the identification of CKS in AHS. First of all, CKS help to quickly identify the key elements of AHS. Secondly, CKS can promote community participation in the conservation and development of AHS. In addition, the identification of CKS has a significant role in food and livelihood security, biodiversity conservation, traditional knowledge and technology transmission, social organization maintenance, and cultural landscape maintenance in AHS, which helps to achieve the conservation goals of GIAHS and/or NIAHS.
The reintroduction of rare and endangered species is one of the most important approaches to conservation and ecosystem restoration, but it has still proven to be an adventurous undertaking and most reintroduction programmes fail, so successful demonstrations are needed. Père David’s deer (Elaphurus davidianus, Milu in Chinese) could be considered one of conservation’s great success stories, as this species’ path on the road to extinction has been reversed by a combination of ex-situ conservation and successful re-introduction in China. The species had been consigned to an imperial hunting ground when the last Chinese herds were exterminated during the fall of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Fortunately, a few of the last remaining individuals were sent to European zoos. From these animals, a herd was bred on the 14th Duke of Bedford’s estate, Woburn Abbey, and between 1985 and 1987, and 38 Milu were donated back to China for re-introduction in Beijing Milu Park (BMP), the former imperial hunting ground. An additional 39 deer were released at Dafeng National Nature Reserve (DFNNR), Jiangsu Province in 1986. In both of these safe and protected locations, the Milu thrived allowing for over 700 Milu to be sent to a further 82 sites throughout the species’ original Chinese range over the last 36 years. As a result, the Milu population totaled 9136 by 2021, with 2855 individuals now living back in the wild; while another 5681 individuals inhabit the DFNNR, and 186 reside in BMP. Wild Milu, however, still face significant conservation challenges. The population lacks genetic diversity, leading to severe inbreeding depression and carrying multiple risks, such as high miscarriage rates, a reduced lifespan, and susceptibility to disease. Environmental constraints such as pollution and habitat fragmentation further result in small, fragmented wild populations. Moreover, the species currently lacks a national level conservation master plan, the associated coordinated monitoring platforms, and breeding plans for China’s captive populations. Finally, there is now a lack of international cooperation in the conservation of this species. We therefore call for both a national-level conservation master plan in China and international cooperation to develop a shared database and germplasm databank covering Milu across all countries with ex-situ populations, as crucial steps for securing the long-term conservation of Milu and preventing it from ever becoming “extinct in the wild” again.
Leaf longevity is an important adaptive strategy that allows plants to maximize photosynthetic carbon gain. Due to the difficulty of identifying overwintering bud scars and distinguishing the age sequence of twigs, leaf longevity is rarely studied in Cupressaceae species, which further limits our understanding of the leaf economic spectrum (LES) for these populations. Here, we investigated the leaf longevity, as well as mass-based leaf nitrogen concentration (Nmass), of Juniperus saltuaria at different canopy heights for both subalpine and alpine timberline forests in the Sergymla Mountains, southeastern Tibet. We found that the mean leaf longevity was 4.2±1.2 years, and overall it did not differ significantly between different elevations. Along the vertical profiles of juniper canopies, the leaf longevity did not reflect a linear trend. With increasing leaf longevity, Nmass showed declining trends. We further analyzed the relationship between leaf longevity and the corresponding length of green twigs, and found that the length of green twigs could only explain 1%-3% of the variation in leaf longevity, indicating that the length of green twigs is a poor predictor for the variation in leaf longevity. In summary, for the J. saltuaria species in timberline or nearby subalpine forests, the effects of elevation and canopy depths on leaf longevity are minor, and the leaf trait analysis is in accordance with the prediction of LES.
Vegetation restoration is the primary task of ecological reconstruction and rocky desertification control in Karst areas. With vegetation net primary productivity and coverage as two key indicators, a vegetation ecological quality evaluation model was built based on meteorological and remote sensing data. Spatiotemporal variation of vegetation ecological quality index and its response to climate change in rocky desertification areas in Southwest China during 2000-2020 were also analyzed by using the difference method and linear trend method. The results showed that: (1) Vegetation ecological quality in rocky desertification areas in Southwest China showed a fluctuating upward trend during 2000-2020. In 2020, the vegetation ecological quality index reached 69.7, which was 19.9% and 9.3% higher than the averaged values for 2000 and 2000-2019, respectively, ranking the fourth highest since 2000. (2) Vegetation ecological quality of the rocky desertification areas in Yunnan, Guangxi and Guizhou provinces have been improved by 89.2%, 99.2% and 98.5%, respectively, from 2000 to 2020, with their vegetation ecological quality index values increasing by 0.5-0.75 per year in southeast Yunnan, most areas in Guizhou and northwest Guangxi. (3) Precipitation was an important meteorological factor affecting the vegetation ecological quality in rocky desertification areas. The vegetation ecological quality index in the northwest and central Yunnan rocky desertification areas has been rising slowly, but with localized declines at a yearly rate of nearly 0.25 caused by climatic warming and drying.
The National Forest Inventory (NFI) is an important resource for estimating the national carbon balance (These data were unpublished data, and we could only obtain the data before 2008 through data search by now). Based on the data from sample plots, the literature, and NFI, as well as the relationships between volume, biomass, annual litterfall and soil respiration of different forest types, the net ecosystem production (NEP), changes in forest biomass carbon storage (△Cbiomass) and non-respiratory losses (NR) of China’s forests during 1999-2008 were estimated, and the forest soil carbon sequestration (△Csoil) was assessed according to the carbon balance principle of the forest ecosystem (△Csoil = NEP - NR - △Cbiomass). The results showed that the total NEP, △Cbiomass, NR and △Csoil values for China’s forests were 157.530, 48.704, 31.033 and 77.793 Tg C yr-1 respectively, and average NEP, △Cbiomass, NR, and △Csoil values were 101.247, 31.303, 19.945 and 49.999 g C m-2 yr-1 respectively. There were large spatial differences in forest soil carbon sequestration in different parts of China. The forest soil in Jiangxi, Hunan, Zhejiang, Fujian, Anhui, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Guangxi and Liaoning served as carbon sources and the carbon released was about 25.507 Tg C yr-1. The other 22 provinces served as carbon sinks and the average carbon sequestration by forest soil came to 103.300 Tg C yr-1. This research established a method for evaluating soil carbon sequestration by China’s forests based on the NFI, which is a useful supplement to current statistical data-based studies on the forest ecosystem carbon cycle, and can promote comparable studies on forest soil carbon sequestration with consistent research methods at the regional scale.
Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVM) are powerful tools for studying complicated ecosystem processes and global changes. This review article synthesizes the developments and applications of the Integrated Biosphere Simulator (IBIS), a DGVM, over the past two decades. IBIS has been used to evaluate carbon, nitrogen, and water cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, vegetation changes, land-atmosphere interactions, land-aquatic system integration, and climate change impacts. Here we summarize model development work since IBIS v2.5, covering hydrology (evapotranspiration, groundwater, lateral routing), vegetation dynamics (plant functional type, land cover change), plant physiology (phenology, photosynthesis, carbon allocation, growth), biogeochemistry (soil carbon and nitrogen processes, greenhouse gas emissions), impacts of natural disturbances (drought, insect damage, fire) and human induced land use changes, and computational improvements. We also summarize IBIS model applications around the world in evaluating ecosystem productivity, carbon and water budgets, water use efficiency, natural disturbance effects, and impacts of climate change and land use change on the carbon cycle. Based on this review, visions of future cross-scale, cross-landscape and cross-system model development and applications are discussed.
Poaceae plant species, such as silver grass, are commonly used in mulching activities Japan. In contrast, local farmers have traditionally used Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) mulch in the cultivation of solanaceous crops in the Nishi-Awa area of Japan, which is a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems site. We have previously evaluated the positive effects of Japanese knotweed mulching on solanaceous crops, such as eggplants, tomato, and potato. In the present study, we observed that the naturally occurring diseases in the solanaceous crops tended to decrease when the knotweed mulching system was adopted, in comparison to when Poaceae mulch was adopted. In eggplants, leaf mold and powdery mildew decreased under Japanese knotweed mulching. We further evaluated the effects of Japanese knotweed mulching by inoculating test plants with Pseudomonas cichorii. We observed suppression of bacterial disease and tomato mosaic virus under Japanese knotweed mulching and following spraying with Japanese knotweed extracts. In addition, disease-resistance genes were expressed at high levels in Arabidopsis thaliana, a model plant, following treatment with Japanese knotweed extracts. The results suggest that Japanese knotweed has potential applications in future sustainable agriculture activities.
Vulnerability research is the core issue and one of the research hotspots of sustainable development science. Vulnerability and its evaluation framework provide a new perspective for rural social-ecosystem studies. This paper introduced the ‘input-output’ efficiency theory and constructed the ‘SEE-PSR’ framework for the analysis of social-ecosystem vulnerability in the rural area in Qingpu District of Shanghai City. The DEA models, spatial autocorrelation model, multivariate logistic regression model, geographical detector and hierarchical cluster model were used to analyze the spatial differences of social-ecosystem vulnerability, and its geographical impact mechanisms and ecological restorations, in 184 administrative villages in this area. The results can be divided into three main points. (1) The results of the ‘input-output’ efficiency model of the EW-DEA based on entropy weight aggregation crossover was more reliable and accurate for the evaluation of rural social-ecosystem vulnerability. The vulnerability of the social-ecosystems in the administrative villages showed a trend of gradual decline from east to west, with an average value of vulnerability of 0.583, and the vulnerability of social systems had become an important factor in constraining the decrease of the vulnerability of the social-ecosystems in the region. (2) The distances from the center of Shanghai City, from Dianshan Lake, from the center of Qingpu District and from the water area were the four dominant geographical factors affecting the vulnerability of the social-ecosystem in this region. The geographical impacts exhibited the spatial differentiations of systemic structure, the substitution of typological attributes and the transformation level. (3) The geographical factors coupling the impact types of the social-ecosystem vulnerability were divided spatially into 10 types. The geographic multi-factor coupling impact types were dominant, which presented multi-cyclic spatial patterns and were dominated by the central multi-factor which was surrounded by the single factor types on both sides. According to the different types, some feasible ways of ecological restoration were proposed, which drew on the experiences of integrated territory consolidation to remediate the vulnerability of rural social-ecological systems. The results of this study can provide scientific reference for rural spatial reconstruction, regional ecological restoration and sustainable development for the regions characterized by conflict in the ‘strict protection of the ecological environment and vigorous development of the economy’.
Enclosure is commonly used in the restoration of degraded grasslands. However, the effects of enclosure on grassland plant and soil restoration remain controversial, particularly in deserts. To assess the effects of enclosure on desert plants and soil properties, using high throughput sequencing, the differences between plants and soil were systematically analyzed before and after enclosure construction. The soil organic carbon, total nitrogen and total phosphorus contents of the three desert flora increased and decreased, but the difference was not significant; enclosure increased plant height, coverage, aboveground biomass, and species richness by 58.99%, 59.35%, 33.29%, and 51.21%, respectively, in a Seriphidium transiliense formation; by 15.49%, 33.52%, 20.85%, and 5.13%, respectively, in a Haloxylon persicum formation; and by 83.80%, 31.51%, 76.66% and 33.33%, respectively, in an Anabasis salsa formation. For soil bacteria, enclosure significantly increased the average number of operational taxonomic units and Shannon-Wiener index by 12.74% and 2.92%, respectively, under S. transiliense formation and by 17.08% and 3.17%, respectively, under H. persicum formation. However, enclosure had no significant effect on the average number of operational taxonomic units or Shannon-Wiener index under A. salsa formation. Enclosure significantly increased desert plants, soil bacterial diversity, and desert plant community productivity; however, the increase in soil nutrient content was not significant. These results demonstrate that enclosure is effective for restoring desert ecosystems but may have little effect on the soil nutrient content.
In recent decades, the continuous growth in the population has significantly changed the area of human settlements across the globe. The change of human settlements has brought great challenges to human development, environmental change, resource allocation, and disaster prediction and prevention. In the current paper, we integrate data products provided by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre with multi-source remote sensing data to analyze the changing trends of global human settlements under varying geographical distributions from 1990 to 2014. The results demonstrate that on the global scale, human settlements are generally distributed in Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the eastern United States, the Gulf Coast and the coast of Oceania, with most of them distributed in urban agglomerations and coastal areas. Global human settlements have continued to grow over the past 25 years, mainly in East Asia, Western Europe and the United States. The area of human settlements in eastern Europe has been slightly reduced. The distribution of human settlements is affected by climate, water and terrain conditions. Humans were more likely to have settled in temperate regions with wetter climates, and most of the human settlements are located within 500 km of the coastline and 30 km of land-based water sources. Our results can provide insights into further investigations of the spatio-temporal dynamics of human settlements and its connections to ecological and environmental issues in a changing world.
Wetland parks play various ecological roles, including maintaining regional ecological balance, and connoting and compensating water sources. Taking Harbin Qunli National Urban Wetland Park as the research object, the diversity of plant resources in wetland parks is investigated and analyzed with the goal of providing a scientific basis for ecological restoration and the conservation and utilization of urban wetlands. Field survey, sampling and data collection methods were used to study the wetland plant resources and their life types (e.g., vines or shrubs), ecological types and distribution types. The study found 60 families, 129 genera and 160 species of wetland plants in Qunli National Urban Wetland Park, including 56 families, 123 genera and 151 species of angiosperms, which include 48 families, 101 genera and 127 species of dicotyledons and 8 families, 22 genera and 24 species of monocotyledons; 2 families, 2 genera and 3 species of ferns; and 2 families, 4 genera and 6 species of gymnosperms. The family composition is dominated by those families that included 10 or more species, and the dominant families are Compositae and Rosaceae. The genus composition is dominated by genera with four or more species present, and the dominant genera are Acer, Malus and Artemisia. Among the six life types, herbaceous plants are dominant, with a proportion of 62.50% of the species. The ecological types are divided into three categories: wet, mesophytic and aquatic plants, with wet plants accounting for the largest proportion, i.e., 56.25% of the total number of plant species. There are five distribution types of plant families and 10 types of the genera, with both families and genera dominated by the Northern Temperate types, so the flora has obvious temperate characteristics.
Quantitative assessment of vulnerability is a core aspect of wetland vulnerability research. Taking Baiyangdian (BYD) wetlands in the North China Plain as a study area and using the ‘cause-result’ model, 23 representative indicators from natural, social, sci-tech and economic elements were selected to construct an indicator system. A weight matrix was obtained by using the entropy weight method to calculate the weight value for each indicator. Based on the membership function in the fuzzy evaluation model, the membership degrees were determined to form a fuzzy relation matrix. Finally, the ecological vulnerability was quantitatively assessed based on the comprehensive evaluation index calculated by using a composite operator to combine the entropy weight matrix with the fuzzy relation matrix. The results showed that the ecological vulnerability levels of the BYD wetlands were comprehensively evaluated as Grade II, Grade Ⅲ, Grade IV, and Grade Ⅲ in 2010, 2011-2013, 2014, and 2015-2017, respectively. The ecological vulnerability of the BYD wetlands increased from low fragility in 2010 to general fragility in 2011-2013, and to high fragility in 2014, reflecting the fact that the wetland ecological condition was degenerating from 2010 to 2014. The ecological vulnerability status then turned back into general fragility during 2015-2017, indicating that the ecological situation of the BYD wetlands was starting to improve. However, the ecological status of the BYD wetlands on the whole is relatively less optimistic. The major factors affecting the ecological vulnerability of the BYD wetlands were found to be industrial smoke and dust emission, wetland water area, ammonia nitrogen, total phosphorus, rate of industrial solid wastes disposed, GDP per capita, etc. This illustrates that it is a systematic project to regulate wetland vulnerability and to protect regional ecological security, which may offer researchers and policy-makers specific clues for concrete interventions.
As a complex social ecosystem network, the area along the Grand Canal has a prominent contradiction between the demand for economic development and the protection of natural resources, which means that there is an urgent need for ecological restoration and environmental protection. Using ArcGIS, Conefor, Linkage Mapper and other software platforms, this paper developed an integrated analysis framework, through loose coupling of the attribute-function-structure index system and a series of methods such as the least cost path, circuit theory and moving window search. Based on the framework, we resolve a series of scientific issues in developing regional ecological networks, such as the selection of ecological sources, the simulation of potential ecological corridors, the assessment of the importance of ecological sources and corridors, and the identification of key ecological nodes. Moreover, an overall conservation pattern of the regional ecological network is constructed. The results show that: 1) A total of 88 important ecological sources are identified in the study area. The patches with high centrality values are mainly concentrated in the southern mountainous area and the areas with abundant rivers and lakes. 2) A total of 138 important ecological corridors are identified, and they are not evenly distributed. Extremely important corridors mostly appear between important patches, and very important corridors are mainly distributed in the central area. 3) Fifteen ecological pinch points are extracted, and they are mainly concentrated in the northern part of the study area and eastern Zhejiang Province. The barriers are mostly concentrated in the southern and northern parts of the study area. 4) Combining the demands of ecological protection and socioeconomic development, we propose an overall ecological conservation pattern of “one axis, five sections, multiple cores and multiple nodes” to effectively guide future ecological restoration work. These results can provide a useful reference and spatial guidance for decision makers in terms of ecological restoration and cooperation on cross-regional ecological protection along the Grand Canal.
The adoption of both Nature-based Solutions (NbS) and a system perspective is a hot issue and an area in which there is much room for improvement in ecological protection and restoration. The study takes Altay region as an example, an area located in Xinjiang, China, which is an important ecological corridor of the national key functional area and the core area of the Belt and Road but has a fragile ecological environment and needs much enhancement in ecological protection and restoration. Guided by the concept of “mountains-rivers-forests- farmlands-lakes-grasslands (MRFFLG) system is a life community”, the coupling relationship of the various MRFFLG elements, the main ecological environmental problems and the integrated countermeasures for protection and restoration in Altay region have been analyzed in this study. The study shows that Altay region has a typical meta-ecosystem of mountain, oasis, and desert, and the connections by rivers and lakes make the ecosystem links within the region much closer. The interweaving of resource-environmental-ecological issues of the aquatic ecosystem, degradation of the quality of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, grasslands and farmlands, the increased ecosystem fragmentation and ecological risks are the major ecological environmental issues in this region. This study takes the improvement of the ecosystem health and function in Altay region as the core goal of regional ecological protection and restoration. First, we establish a zoning governance pattern from the perspective of ecosystem integrity; second, we design governance strategies for different zones with the goal of synergistic improvements in the ecosystem functions; and finally, we clarify the key engineering tasks in different zones from the perspective of ecosystem services. Ecological conservation and restoration of the MRFFLG system is a prime example of the application and development of NbS in China. This paper constructs an analytical framework for identifying regional life communities, diagnosing ecological protection and restoration of zoning problems, and proposing classified solutions for ecological protection tasks for the protection of the MRFFLG system. This research will enrich the theory and technology for the protection and restoration of MRFFLG systems, and provide guidance for the practice of ecological protection and restoration in Altay region.
Altay Prefecture plays a vital role as an ecological barrier in Northwest China. Studying the ecosystem service value is of great significance for promoting regional green high-quality development and maintaining ecological security. Based on Global ESA land cover data from 2000 to 2015, the trade-off and synergy relationships and driving force factors between ecosystem services in Altay Prefecture were analyzed in this study. The analysis produced four main results. (1) The ecosystem service value in Altay Prefecture continued to increase from 113.521Ⅹ109 yuan in 2000 to 115.777Ⅹ109 yuan in 2015, for an increase of about 1.98%. (2) The distribution of ecosystem service value had obvious spatial agglomeration characteristics, with hot spot areas mainly concentrated in the "two rivers and one lake" and the mountainous areas in the northwest, while the cold spot areas were mainly the forest and grass-covered areas in the northern mountainous areas and within Jimunai County. (3) The trade-off and synergy relationship among ecosystem services was mainly synergistic, with a total of 77.78% of ecosystem service relative relationships showing a significant positive correlation at the 0.01 level. (4) Economic factors and industrial structure are important factors affecting ecosystem service value in Altay Prefecture. Ecosystem service value is positively correlated with per capita GDP and the output value of the tertiary industry, but negatively correlated with the output value of the secondary industry.
The Irtysh River Basin refers to a water conservation area and a vital ecological barrier in Xinjiang and also partially in Central Asia. Here, the technical solution for the ecological protection and the restoration of the Mountains-Rivers-Forests-Farmlands-Lakes-Grasslands system (MRFFLGs) pilot project in the Irtysh River Basin is refined, by complying with the core concept, i.e., “mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes and grasslands are a community of life”. The solution stresses the specific characteristics of ecologically protecting and restoring MRFFLGs in the Irtysh River Basin, which aim to reduce ecological water use, soil erosion, forest and grassland degradation, the ecological destruction of mines, water environment pollution and other issues. With overall protection, system restoration, district policy, and problem orientation as the overarching ideas, 162 sub-items of 44 major items with seven categories have been designed and implemented in the project. In addition, some highlights of the management experience that are worth promoting when the pilot project is being implemented are also summarized (e.g., the use of laws to solve historical problems, scientific argumentation and third-party evaluation, proactive guidance for the engagement of people, modern information technology support, and integration with local sustainable development). Lastly, four policy suggestions are proposed: (1) Building a model of systematic protection and restoration by using basins as the basic geographic unit; (2) Establishing and optimizing key weak links of systems and mechanisms; (3) Focusing on remedying the shortcomings of regional talents, technology and capital; and (4) Promoting the MRFFLGs project to integrate “industry, city, people, and tourism” for carrying out a large-scale system project.
As a material carrier contributing to human survival and social sustainable development, the ecological environment is declining in its integrity and overall health. With the rapid development of society and economy, it is currently very necessary to carry out ecological security evaluation research to provide scientific guidance and suggestions for the construction of ecological civilization and the harmonious co-existence between man and nature. Taking Altay region as the research area, this paper collected and integrated regional geological, geographical, cultural, socio-economic, and statistical data, as well as previous research results. Combined with DPSIR and EES framework model, the evaluation index system of land resource ecological security in Altay region was constructed by using the analytic hierarchy process, entropy method and linear weighted summation function method. Using this index system, the evaluation research work was carried out to determine the current state of the security situation and the major threats which should be addressed. (1) The overall ecological security situation of Altay region was relatively safe, while the local ecological security situation was relatively fragile. Among them, the areas with safe and safer ecological environment accounted for 38.72%, while the areas with critically safe status accounted for 30.83%, and the areas with a less safe and unsafe environment accounted for 30.45%. In terms of spatial characteristics, the areas with unsafe ecological environment were mainly distributed in the west and east of the study area, while the areas with good ecological environment were distributed in the north of the study area. (2) Large-scale mining activities, frequent geological disasters, large-scale reclamation and long-term cultivation of arable land, and long-term large-scale grazing activities resulting in the destruction of grassland and vegetation were the main factors leading to the prominent ecological security problems of land resources in the Altay region. Therefore, in the process of the continuous development of the urban economy, we should pay more attention to the harmony between man and nature, and also actively and effectively advocate and implement certain policies and measures, such as returning farmland to forest, returning grazing land to grassland and integrating the mining of mineral resources.
Grassland degradation in Altay Prefecture is of considerable concern as it is a threat that hinders the sustainable development of the local economy and the stable operation of the livestock industry. Quantitative assessment of the relative contributions of climate change and human activities, which are considered as the dominant triggers of grassland degradation, to grassland variation is crucial for understanding the grassland degradation mechanism and mitigating the degraded grassland in Altay Prefecture. In this paper, the Carnegie-Ames-Stanford Approach model and the Thornthwaite memorial model were adopted to simulate the actual net primary productivity (NPPA) and potential net primary productivity (NPPP) in the Altay Prefecture from 2000 to 2019. Meanwhile, the difference between potential NPP and actual NPP was employed to reflect the effects of human activities (NPPH) on the grassland. On this basis, we validated the viability of the simulated NPP using the Pearson correlation coefficient, investigated the spatiotemporal variability of grassland productivity, and established comprehensive scenarios to quantitatively assess the relative roles of climate change and human activities on grassland in Altay prefecture. The results indicate three main points. (1) The simulated NPPA was highly consistent with the MOD17A3 dataset in spatial distribution. (2) Regions with an increased NPPA accounted for 70.53% of the total grassland, whereas 29.47% of the total grassland area experienced a decrease. At the temporal scale, the NPPA presented a slightly increasing trend (0.83 g C m?2 yr?1) over the study period, while the trends of NPPP and NPPH were reduced (?1.31 and ?2.15 g C m?2 yr?1). (3) Compared with climate change, human activities played a key role in the process of grassland restoration, as 66.98% of restored grassland resulted from it. In contrast, inter-annual climate change is the primary cause of grassland degradation, as it influenced 55.70% of degraded grassland. These results could shed light on the mechanisms of grassland variation caused by climate change and human activities, and they can be applied to further develop efficient measures to combat desertification in Altay Prefecture.