Regional Ecological Vulnerability Assessment of the Guangxi Xijiang River Economic Belt in Southwest China with VSD Model

  • 1 Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China;
    2 Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China

Received date: 2014-03-19

  Revised date: 2014-04-23

  Online published: 2014-06-06

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China (41201110), Young Talents Foundation of Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology of CAS (NIGLAS2011QD03).


The interactive effects of natural and human factors on ecosystems have been well studied, and the quantitative assessment of large-scale ecological vulnerability caused by natural and human factors is now one of the most active topics in the field. Taking the Guangxi Xijiang River Economic Belt in southwest China (GXEB) as a case study, we assess ecological vulnerability based on the Vulnerability Scoping Diagram (VSD) model. The indices system is decomposed into three sub objects, ten elements and 25 indicators layer by layer, which included factors from both natural and human fields. Results indicate that zones with lower, middle-lower, middle, middlehigher and higher vulnerability account for 11.31%, 22.63%, 27.60%, 24.39%, and 14.07%, respectively. The western and eastern parts of GXEB are more vulnerable than the central part and the mountain and urban areas are of higher vulnerability than the basins and river valleys. Compared with a vulnerability assessment based on natural factors only, it is concluded that human activities indeed cause the transition from naturally stable zones to vulnerable zones. The nature-dominated vulnerable zones are different with human-dominated ones in size and distribution, the latter being smaller, more scattered and distributed in urban areas and their surroundings. About 53% of total construction land is distributed in zones with middle and middle-higher ecological vulnerability; less vulnerable zones should attract construction in the future. Relevant suggestions are proposed on how to reduce vulnerability according to inducing factors. The VSD model has a significant advantage in the quantitative evaluation of ecological vulnerability, but is insufficient to distinguish nature-or human-dominated vulnerability quantitatively.

Cite this article

LI Pingxing, FAN Jie . Regional Ecological Vulnerability Assessment of the Guangxi Xijiang River Economic Belt in Southwest China with VSD Model[J]. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2014 , 5(2) : 163 -170 . DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2014.02.009


Adger W N. 2006. Vulnerability. Global Environmental Change, 16: 268-281.

Berry P M, M D A Rounsevell, P A Harrison. 2006. Assessing the vulnerability of agricultural and use and species to climate change and the role of policy in facilitating adaptation. Environmental Science & Policy, 9(2): 189-204.

Birkmann J. 2007. Risk and vulnerability indicators at different scales: applicability, usefulness and policy implications. Environmental Hazards, 7: 20-31.

Blaikie P, T Cannon, I Davis, et al. 1994. At risk: Natural hazards, people's vulnerability, and disasters. New York: Routledge.

Carter T R and K Mäkinen. 2011. Approaches to climate change impact, adaptation and vulnerability assessment: Towards a classification framework to serve decision-making. MEDIATION Technical Report No. 2.1, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Helsinki, Finland.

Chen L Z. 1993. Status and protection strategy of China's biodiversity. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Chen P and Chen X L. 2010. Summary on research of coupled humanenvironment system vulnerability under global environmental change. Progress in Geography, 29(4): 454-462. (in Chinese)

Cutter S L. 2003. The vulnerability of science and the science of vulnerability. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 93(1): 1-12.

Fan J. 2011. Research on the sustainable development of Xijiang River Economic Belt in Guangxi: Function, progress and pattern. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Füssel H. 2007. Vulnerability: A generally applicable conceptual framework for climate change research. Global Environmental Change, 17: 155-167.

Guan D J, Su W C, Wang H J. 2006. On eco-environment vulnerability assessment of karst regions in Chongqing. Research of Agricultural Modernization, 27(6): 432-435. (in Chinese)

Li H, Zhang P Y, Cheng Y Q. 2008. Concepts and assessment methods of vulnerability. Progress in Geography, 27(2): 18-25. (in Chinese)

Li P X, Chen D, Fan J. 2011. Research of ecological occupiability based on least-cost distance model: A case study on Xijiang River Economic Belt in Guangxi. Journal of Natural Resources, 26(2): 227-236. (in Chinese)

Liu X Q, Wang Y L, Peng J. 2009. Progress in vulnerability analysis of coupled human-environment system. Advances in Earth Science, 24(8): 917-927.

Liu X Q and Liu Y S. 2010. Change of vulnerable degree of ecoenvironment before and after large-scale energy exploitation: A case study of Yulin City. Journal of Arid Land Resources and Environment, 24(1): 46-51. (in Chinese)

Lu D D. 2011. Development of geographical sciences and research on global change in China. Acta Geographica Sinica, 66(2): 147-156. (in Chinese)

McCarthy J J, O F Canziani, N A Leary, et al. 2001. Climate change 2001: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Moreno A and S A Becken. 2009. Climate change vulnerability assessment methodology for coastal tourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 17: 473-488.

Newell B, C L Crumley, N Hassan, et al. 2005. A conceptual template for integrative human-environment research. Global Environmental Change, 15: 299-307.

Niu W Y. 1989. The discriminatory index with regard to the weakness, overlapness and breadth of ecotone. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 9(2): 97-105. (in Chinese)

Pearsall H. 2009. Linking the stressors and stressing the linkages: Humanenvironment vulnerability and brown field redevelopment in New York City. Environmental Hazards, 8(2): 117-132.

Polsky C, R Neff, B Yarnal. 2007. Building comparable global change vulnerability assessments: The vulnerability scoping diagram. Global Environmental Change, 17: 472-485.

Ran S H, Jin J J, Xue J Y. 2002. Assessment of vulnerable ecological regions: theory and methodology. Journal of Natural Resources, 17(1): 117-122. (in Chinese)

Roberts M G and Yang G A. 2003. The international progress of sustainable development research: A comparison of vulnerability analysis and the sustainable livelihoods approach. Progress in Geography, 22(1): 11-21. (in Chinese)

Tao H P, Gao P, Zhong X H. 2006. A study of regional eco-environment vulnerability: A case of "one-river-two-tributaries", Tibet. Journal of Mountain Science, 24(6): 861-868. (in Chinese)

Tian Y P, Liu P L, Zheng W W. 2005. Vulnerability assessment and analysis of hilly area in Southern China: A case study in the Hengyang Basin. Geographical Research, 24(6): 843-852. (in Chinese)

Vitousek P M, H A Mooney, J Lubchenco, et al. 1997. Human domination of earth's ecosystems. Science, 277(25): 494-499.

Wang L J, Guo H C, Liu Y, et al. 2005. Ecological fragility of Qionghai lake basin and its assessment. Chinese Journal of Ecology, 24(10): 1192-1196. (in Chinese)

Xiao T, Wang J B, Chen Z Q. 2010. Vulnerability of grassland ecosystems in the Sanjiangyuan Region based on NPP. Resources Science, 32(2): 323-330. (in Chinese)

Xie B and Yang Y G. 1998. Relationship between ecological environmental fragility and human activities in karst mountain areas of Guizhou Province: A case study at Xifeng County. Bulletin of Soil and Water Conservation, 18(4): 12-16. (in Chinese)

Xie H L and Li B. 2004. A study on indices system and assessment criterion of ecological security for city. Journal of Beijing Normal University (Natural Science), 40(5): 705-710.

Xu G C, Kang M Y, He L N, et al. 2009. Advances in research on ecological vulnerability. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 29(5): 2578-2588. (in Chinese)

Xu Q and Zhang S Y. 2013. Site selection evaluation of marine ranching in Zhoushan area based on AHP method. Journal of Shanghai Ocean University, 22(1): 128-133. (in Chinese)

Yu L, Li K R, Tao B. 2012. Assessment on ecosystem vulnerability to extreme precipitation in the upper and middle Yangtze Valley. Journal of Natural Resources, 27(1): 82-89. (in Chinese)

Zhao P, Peng S L, Zhang J W. 1998. The fragility of ecosystem and the restoration of degraded ecosystem. Journal of Tropical and Subtropical Botany, 6(3): 179-186. (in Chinese)

Zhou J S. 1997. Fragility of mountain ecosystem and desertification. Journal of Natural Resources, 12(1): 10-16. (in Chinese)