Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 1702–1714 | Cite as

Quantitative evaluation of Tibet’s resource and environmental carrying capacity

  • Liang Wang
  • Hui LiuEmail author


This study identifies the carrying state and value of Tibet’s resource and environmental carrying capacity. A new theoretical framework is proposed for exploring the resource and environmental carrying capacity based on two perspectives of “growth limit” and “stability of Human-Earth relationship system”. On this basis, an ideal growth model that accords with the “short board” effect is established to predict the population limitation. Analytical results show that the holistic state of resource and environmental carrying capacity in Tibet is in jeopardy. From 2010 to 2016, Tibet’s carrying state continued to decline, moreover, the negative forces still overwhelm the positive forces. Although the resource reserves still have room for more population, the environmental capacity and ecological capacity have been overloaded. Meanwhile, the Human-Earth relationship system is in an unstable stage. Three scenarios that respond to different socioeconomic developments are implemented to predict the population limitation of resource and environmental carrying capacity in Tibet; thus, authors argue that Tibet should keep its population size within 4 million around 2025. This research will provide reference for sustainable development and resources and environmental conservation in Tibet.


Population limitation Resources carrying capacity Environmental carrying capacity Short board effect Tibet 


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This study was supported by the Specific Project of National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grants No.2016YFC0503506) and the Strategy Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grants No. XDA20010103).


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development ModelingChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Faculty of Geographical ScienceBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.College of Resource and EnvironmentUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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