Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 16, Issue 2–3, pp 119–126

Changes in forest cover in China during the Holocene

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00334-006-0075-5

Cite this article as:
Ren, G. Veget Hist Archaeobot (2007) 16: 119. doi:10.1007/s00334-006-0075-5


Pollen map data at 2000-year intervals are used to reconstruct changes in Holocene forest cover in China north of the Yangtze River. In almost all regions, the early Holocene from 10 ka b.p. to 6 ka b.p. is characterised by an increase in forest cover although there was a reversal to lower forest cover at 8 ka b.p. in the eastern monsoon regions. A maximum of forest cover was reached at 6 ka b.p. in all regions except for Northeast China where forest cover peaked in the late Holocene. All regions except for Northeast China experienced a marked decline in forest cover after 6 ka b.p. Since 6 ka b.p., forest cover has decreased by about 92% in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, 64% in the easternmost part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and 37% between the Yangtze River and the Huaihe River. In contrast, forest cover in Northeast China increased significantly from 6 ka b.p., but has declined between 2 ka b.p. and the present. Changes in forest cover prior to 6 ka b.p. were probably caused by climate, but the evident drop in forest cover since that time in most regions may have been induced predominantly by human activities.


Forest cover Pollen data Holocene China Climatic change Human impact 

Copyright information

© Springer Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Climate CenterBeijingP. R. China

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