Most countries along the route of the “Belt and Road” initiative are faced with a shortage of water resources. However, successful implementation of the initiative depends on water availability to support economic and social development. We designed a water resources carrying capacity evaluation index system, assigned grades and weights to each evaluation index and calculated a water resources carrying index for the 65 countries along the route. We used virtual water theory to analyze China’s net virtual water import from key bulk agricultural products through international trade. For more than half of the countries along the route, their water resources will be unable to support the economic development that will be necessary for fulfilling the goals of the Initiative. As a country with insufficient water resources carrying capacity, China is a net virtual water importer in the virtual water trade. This virtual water trade can improve China’s water resources support capacity, and ensure China’s water and food security for the future.
In the context of global ecological overload, international trade has become one of the most important ways to make up for the ecological deficit. This study takes the “Belt and Road” Initiative as the study area to analyze the biocapacity and ecological footprint characteristics between China and other countries along the “Belt and Road” Initiative. Trade flow characteristics were explored from the perspective of biocapacity. The import and export of virtual land was used to assess the effect of trade on compensating for the resource gaps in crop and grazing land. The main results show that: 1) In 2005-2014, the majority of “Belt and Road” countries were experiencing increasing degrees of overload. In China, cropland takes up the largest proportion of biocapacity, while the ecological footprint is dominated by the carbon footprint. 2) The trade flow of agricultural and livestock products in the mainland of China shows a trend of increasing imports and decreasing exports, which increases dependence on specific regions. 3) In 2005-2014, China’s trade in cereals and oil crops along the “Belt and Road” Initiative were generally net imports, and the share of cereals traded along the “Belt and Road” Initiative is increasing gradually, but that of oil crops decreased rapidly. 4) The import trade has alleviated ecological deficit, as the selected products compensated for 1.03 times of the cropland deficit and 0.65 times of the grazing land deficit in China. This study is helpful to understand the relationship between the land use and trade deeply, and provide decision-making references for reducing ecological deficits, optimizing land resource allocation, and promoting win-win cooperation among China and other countries in the “Belt and Road” Initiative.
Grassland ecosystems are one of the most important terrestrial ecosystems on the earth. Central Asia has the largest contiguous grazing area in the world and good conditions for the development of animal husbandry. However, in the past 30 years, the grassland ecosystem in Central Asia has experienced significant degradation, and the livestock industry has also experienced an overall decline to the point that livestock products are now dependent on imports. The ecological footprint method was used to analyze the change trend and characteristics of grassland ecological carrying capacity and ecological occupation in Central Asia. The grassland ecological capacity in Central Asia was found to be much higher than the global level, and great potential still remains for further development and utilization. The international trade of livestock products in Central Asian countries showed a deficit, and the net import of livestock products increased year by year. Net imports reached 9.5% in 1992-2016, and the dependence on foreign countries increased significantly, which is not conducive to the sustainable development of animal husbandry in Central Asia. In the future, the counties of Central Asia should optimize the aspects of policy, management and technology to improve the productivity of grassland animal husbandry, strengthen grassland ecological protection, and realize the coordinated and sustainable development of their grassland ecological economic systems.
Determining the carrying capacity of ecological resources is the key to finding contradictions between human activities and the environment, as well as the links between economic growth, environmental protection and social development. In recent years, the carrying capacity of the ecological environment has been extensively studied at home and abroad. Through extensive literature research and analysis, this paper discusses the current status and main problems of recent research on the carrying capacity of the ecological environment in China. For example, two of the main problems are that: 1) the concepts and connotations are not clear enough, and 2) the research content is not systematic enough. This is followed by a summary of the evaluation index system and main calculation methods. Finally, according to the research status and development trends at home and abroad, the possible direction for the development of this research field in the future is proposed.
Food safety is an important issue for the development of the national economy and society. Studying regional food supply and demand from the perspective of land resource carrying capacity can provide new references for regional resource sustainability. This study uses the data from farmer and herdsmen household questionnaires, statistical data, land use data, and other sources to construct a land resource carrying capacity (LCC) assessment framework, targeting the food supply and demand of residents in representative areas, specifically the typical grassland pastoral areas, sandy pastoral areas and agro-pastoral areas on the Xilin Gol grassland transects. The three food nutritional indicators of calories, protein and fat were selected for analyzing the balance of land resource carrying capacity. We found that: 1) Along the Xilin Gol grassland, the main local food supply showed a shift from meat and milk to grains, vegetables and fruits. 2) From north to south along the grassland transects, the calorie intake increased gradually, while the intake of protein and fat was highest in pastoral areas and lowest in agricultural areas. 3) The overall land resource carrying capacity of the Xilin Gol grassland transects was in a surplus state, but the land carrying capacity of typical grassland pastoral area was higher than the two other types of areas. This study provides an empirical reference for the sustainable development of regional food nutrition.