Vegetation Restoration in Response to Climatic and Anthropogenic Changes in the Loess Plateau, China

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A thorough understanding of the vegetation succession in relation to both climatic changes and anthropogenic activities is vital for the formulation of adaptation strategies that address potential ecosystem challenges. Various climatic factors such as temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation, as well as anthropogenic factors such as ecological engineering and population migration, will affect the conditions for vegetation. However, the relationships among various factors remain unclear and the response of vegetation to climate change and anthropogenic activities in the Loess Plateau of China has not been well established. This study investigated the spatio-temporal characteristics and relationships between vegetation coverage and climatic factors in the Loess Plateau for the period of 1985–2015. Further analysis separated the anthropogenic and climatic factors on vegetation succession based on residual analysis. The results showed that the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) followed a significant upward trend with annual change rates of 0.15% during 1985–2015. The trend of human-induced NDVI increase was consistent with the spatial distribution of increasing forest areas in the eastern part of the Loess Plateau. Eco-restoration projects were the main driving factors that promoted vegetation coverage on the Loess Plateau. Furthermore, these results demonstrated that migrants to cities in the Loess Plateau could relieve ecological pressures and promote vegetation restoration. Therefore, the government should strive to increase population mobility and restore vegetation to sustain this particularly fragile ecological environment.

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Correspondence to Yurui Li.

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Foundation item

Under the auspices of the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2017YFC0504701), National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41971220, 41701119, 41471143), National Social Science Foundation of China (No.15ZDA021)

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Qu, L., Huang, Y., Yang, L. et al. Vegetation Restoration in Response to Climatic and Anthropogenic Changes in the Loess Plateau, China. Chin. Geogr. Sci. 30, 89–100 (2020).

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  • vegetation restoration
  • climate change
  • anthropogenic activities
  • Loess Plateau
  • the Grain for Green Project