, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 584–592 | Cite as

Assessment of ecosystem services in restoration programs in China: A systematic review

  • Xin Wen
  • Jérôme ThéauEmail author


We examined the use of ecosystem service (ES) approaches at the landscape scale to assess two major ecological restoration programs (ERPs) in China. We found 68 papers highlighting four aspects: (1) most papers considered only one ES, and all ES categories were not covered equally; (2) regional-scale and short-term assessments dominated the reviewed papers, and few papers evaluated the impacts of ERPs on ESs at multiple spatial scales; (3) the majority of datasets were from global and national databases; and (4) 40% of studies used mostly proxy models and did not report model validation. Finally, we identify four needs: (1) for a deeper understanding of the interactions between multiple ESs; (2) to establish multiple temporal and spatial scales on ERP assessments including future scenarios and balanced efforts of ERP assessments over the entire territory; (3) to establish multiple data scales; and (4) to develop robust modeling approaches.


China Ecological restoration program Ecosystem services Systematic review 



This work was supported by the Fonds de Recherche Nature et Technologies du Québec (FRQNT) in collaboration with the China Scholarship Council (CSC), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). We appreciate the support of Prof. J. Fan, Prof. X.Z. Deng and Prof. L. Zhen for providing us advices, which helped improve the paper. We are grateful to Jessika Pickford (Traduction Catalytik) for the English revision. This paper has also benefited from comments by anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

13280_2019_1214_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (247 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 247 kb)


  1. Agarwal, C., G.M. Green, J.M. Grove, T.P. Evans, and C.M. Schweik. 2002. A review and assessment of land-use change models: dynamics of space, time, and human choice. Gen Tech Rep NE-297 Newton Square, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station.Google Scholar
  2. Andrew, M.E., M.A. Wulder, T.A. Nelson, and N.C. Coops. 2015. Spatial data, analysis approaches, and information needs for spatial ecosystem service assessments: A review. GIScience & Remote Sensing 52: 344–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bennett, E.M., G.D. Petreson, and L.J. Gordon. 2009. Understanding relationships among multiple ecosystem services. Ecology Letters 12: 1394–1404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brandt, J.S., T. Kuemmerle, H. Li, G. Ren, J. Zhu, and V.C. Radeloff. 2012. Using Landsat imagery to map forest change in southwest China in response to the national logging ban and ecotourism development. Remote Sensing of Environment 121: 358–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burkhard, B., F. Kroll, F. Müller, and W. Windhorst. 2009. Landscapes’ capacities to provide ecosystem services: A concept for land-cover based assessments. Landscape Online 15: 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Caldwell, I.M., V.W. Maclaren, J.M. Chen, W.M. Ju, S. Zhou, Y. Yin, and A. Boland. 2007. An integrated assessment model of carbon sequestration benefits: A case study of Liping County, China. Journal of Environmental Management 85: 757–773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cao, S.X., L. Chen, and Z. Liu. 2009. An investigation of Chinese attitudes towards the environment: case study using the Grain for Green Project. Ambio 38: 55–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cao, S.X., G. Sun, Z. Zhang, L. Chen, Q. Feng, B. Fu, S. McNulty, D. Shankman, et al. 2011. Greening China naturally. Ambio 40: 828–831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crossman, N., B. Burkhard, S. Nedkov, L. Willemen, K. Petz, I. Palomo, E.G. Drakou, B. Martin-Lopez, et al. 2013. A blueprint for mapping and modelling ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services 13: 4–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. D’Amato, D., M. Rekola, N. Li, and A. Toppinen. 2016. Monetary valuation of forest ecosystem services in China: A literature review and identification of future research needs. Ecological Economics 121: 75–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. De Groot, R.S., R. Alkemade, L. Braat, L. Hein, and L. Willemen. 2010. Challenges in integrating the concept of ecosystem services and values in landscape planning, management, and decision making. Ecological Complexity 7: 260–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Groot, R.S., L. Brander, S. van der Ploeg, R. Costanza, F. Bernard, L. Braat, M. Christie, N. Crossman, et al. 2012. Global estimates of the value of ecosystems and their services in monetary units. Ecosystem Services 1: 50–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Farber, S.C., R. Costanza, and M.A. Wilson. 2002. Economic and ecological concepts for valuing ecosystem services. Ecological Economics 41: 375–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Feng, X.M., G. Sun, B. Fu, C.H. Su, Y. Liu, and H. Lamparski. 2012. Regional effects of vegetation restoration on water yield across the Loess Plateau, China. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 16: 2617–2628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Feng, Z., Y. Yang, Y. Zhang, P. Zhang, and Y. Li. 2005. Grain-for-green policy and its impacts on grain supply in West China. Land Use Policy 22: 301–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fisher, B., R.K. Turner, and P. Morling. 2009. Defining and classifying ecosystem services for decision making. Ecological Economics 68: 643–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fu, B.J., Y. Liu, Y.H. Lu, C.S. He, Y. Zeng, and B.F. Wu. 2011. Assessing the soil erosion control service of ecosystems change in the Loess Plateau of China. Ecological Complexity 8: 284–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ghassemian, H. 2016. A review of remote sensing image fusion methods. Information Fusion 32: 72–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jia, X.Q., B. Fu, X.M. Feng, G.H. Hou, Y. Liu, and X.F. Wang. 2014. The tradeoff and synergy between ecosystem services in the Grain-for-Green areas in Northern Shaanxi, China. Ecological Indicators 43: 103–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Konig, H.J., L. Zhen, K. Helming, S. Uthes, L. Yang, X. Cao, and H. Wiggering. 2014. Assessing the impact of the sloping land conservation programme on rural sustainability in Guyuan, western China. Land Degradation and Development 25: 385–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Li, C., J. Qi, Z. Feng, R. Yin, B. Guo, F. Zhang, and S. Zou. 2010. Quantifying the effect of ecological restoration on soil erosion in China’s Loess Plateau region: An application of the MMP approach. Environmental Management 45: 476–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Li, W.H. 2004. Degradation and restoration of forest ecosystems in China. Forest Ecology and Management 201: 33–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lindenmayer, D.B., C.R. Margules, and D. Botkin. 2000. Indicators of forest sustainability biodiversity: The selection of forest indicator species. Conservation Biology 14: 941–950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Liu, J.G., S.X. Li, Z.Y. Ouyang, C. Tam, and X.D. Chen. 2008. Ecological and socioeconomic effects of China’s policies for ecosystem services. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: 9477–9482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liu, J.G., Z.Y. Ouyang, W. Yang, W.H. Xu, and S.X. Li. 2013. Evaluation of ecosystem service policies from biophysical and social perspectives: The case of China. In Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, vol. 3, 2nd ed, ed. S.A. Levin, 372–384. New York: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lü, Y., B. Fu, X. Feng, Y. Zeng, Y. Liu, R. Chang, G. Sun, and B. Wu. 2012. A policy-driven large scale ecological restoration: Quantifying ecosystem services changes in the Loess Plateau of China. PLoS ONE 7: e31782.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Maes, J., B. Egoh, L. Willemen, C. Liquete, P. Vihervaara, J.P. Schagner, B. Grizzetti, E.G. Drakou, et al. 2012. Mapping ecosystem services for policy support and decision making in the European Union. Ecosystem Services 1: 31–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Martinez-Harms, M.J., and P. Balvanera. 2012. Methods for mapping ecosystem service supply: A review. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 8: 17–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McVicar, T.R., L.T. Li, T.G. Van Niel, L. Zhang, R. Li, Q. Yang, X.P. Zhang, et al. 2007. Developing a decision support tool for China’s re-vegetation program: Simulating regional impacts of afforestation on average annual streamflow in the Loess Plateau. Forest Ecology and Management 251: 65–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA). 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: A framework for assessment. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  31. Muller, F., R. Hoffmann-Kroll, and H. Wiggering. 2000. Indicating ecosystem integrity—from ecosystem theories to eco targets, models, indicators and variables. Ecological Modelling 130: 13–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nelson, E., G. Mendoza, J. Regetz, S. Polasky, H. Tallis, D. Cameron, K. Chan, G.C. Daily, et al. 2009. Modeling multiple ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, commodity production, and tradeoffs at landscape scales. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7: 4–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Raudsepp-Hearne, C., and G.D. Peterson. 2016. Scale and ecosystem services: How do observation, management, and analysis shift with scale-lessons from Québec. Ecology and Society 21: 16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rykiel Jr., E.J. 1996. Testing ecological models: the meaning of validation. Ecological Modelling 90: 229–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sun, D.F., L. Hong, R. Dawson, C.J. Tang, and L.X. Wen. 2006. Characteristics of steep cultivated land and the impact of the Grain-for-Green policy in China. Pedosphere 16: 215–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wang, C., H. Ouyang, V. Maclaren, Y. Yin, B. Shao, A. Boland, and Y. Tian. 2007. Evaluation of the economic and environmental impact of converting cropland to forest: A case study in Dunhua county, China. Journal of Environmental Management 85: 746–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Xu, J.C. 2011. China’s new forests aren’t as green as they seem. Nature 477: 371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yang, L., W. Wei, L. Chen, and B. Mo. 2012. Response of deep soil moisture to land use and afforestation in the semi-arid Loess Plateau, China. Journal of Hydrology 475: 111–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yin, R.S., G.P. Yin, and L.Y. Li. 2010. Assessing China’s ecological restoration programs: What’s been done and what remains to be done? Environment Management 45: 442–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zhang, J., and J. Guan. 2007. Who will meet China’s import demand for forest products? World Development 35: 2150–2160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zhang, P., G. Shao, G. Zhao, D.C. Le Master, G.R. Parker, J.B. Dunning Jr., and Q. Li. 2000. Ecology: China’s forest policy for the 21st century. Science 288: 2135–2136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhou, D., S. Zhao, and C. Zhu. 2012. The Grain for Green Project induced land cover change in the Loess Plateau: A case study with Ansai County, Shanxi Province, China. Ecological Indicators 23: 88–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Applications et de Recherches en Télédétection, Department of Applied GeomaticsUniversité de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada
  2. 2.Centre de la Science de la Biodiversité du QuébecMontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations