Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences

, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 871–884 | Cite as

Land use changes and their relations with carbon cycles over the past 300 a in China

  • QuanSheng Ge
  • JunHu Dai
  • FanNeng He
  • Yuan Pan
  • MengMai Wang


Land use and land cover in China have changed greatly during the past 300 a, indicated by the rapid abrupt decrease of forest land area and the rapid increase of cropland area, which can affect terrestrial carbon cycle greatly. The first-hand materials are used to analyze main characteristics for land use and land cover changes in China during the study period. The following conclusions can be drawn from this study. The cropland area in China kept increasing from 60.78×106 hm2 in 1661 to 96.09×106 hm2 in 1998. Correspondingly, the forest land area decreased from 248.13×106 hm2 in 1700 to 109.01×106 hm2 in 1949. Affected by such changes, the terrestrial ecosystem carbon storage decreased in the mean time. Carbon lost from land use and land cover changes mainly consist of the loss from vegetation biomass and soil. In the past 300 a, about 3.70 PgC was lost from vegetation biomass, and emissions from soil ranged from 0.80 to 5.84 PgC. The moderate evaluation of soil losses was 2.48 PgC. The total loss from vegetation and soil was between 4.50 and 9.54 PgC. The moderate and optimum evaluation was 6.18 PgC. Such carbon losses distribution varied spatially from region to region. Carbon lost more significantly in Northeast China and Southwest China than in other regions, because losses of forest land in these two regions were far greater than in the other regions during the past 300 a. And losses of carbon in the other regions were also definite, such as Inner Mongolia, the western part of South China, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. But the carbon lost very little from the traditional agricultural regions in China, such as North China and East China. Studies on the relationship between land use and land cover change and carbon cycle in China show that the land use activities, especially those related to agriculture and forest management, began to affect terrestrial carbon storage positively in recent years.


past 300 a land use and land cover change carbon cycle 


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Copyright information

© Science in China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • QuanSheng Ge
    • 1
  • JunHu Dai
    • 1
  • FanNeng He
    • 1
  • Yuan Pan
    • 1
  • MengMai Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchBeijingChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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