Land cover change and eco-environmental quality response of different geomorphic units on the Chinese Loess Plateau

  • Yongyong Song
  • Dongqian XueEmail author
  • Lanhai Dai
  • Pengtao Wang
  • Xiaogang Huang
  • Siyou Xia


Land cover in the Chinese Loess Plateau has undergone dramatic changes since the late 1980s. Revealing the trend in land cover change and eco-environmental quality response of different geomorphic units in this stage is a realistic requirement for promoting sustainable development of the Chinese Loess Plateau. Based on the data of geomorphic units and land cover in 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2018 of the Chinese Loess Plateau, we studied the trend of land cover change and eco-environmental quality response of different geomorphic units by using a significance index of land cover change, a proportion index of land cover change and an eco-environmental response model. The results indicated that from 1990 to 2018, the areas of forestland and construction land substantially increased, whereas those of cropland, grassland, wetland and unused land considerably decreased. Land cover change exhibited large geomorphic differences, and the main conversion of land cover was from cropland into other land types. Unstable trend of land cover change in the loess tablelands and sandy loess hills declined, whereas the unstable trends in the other geomorphic units enhanced. Eco-environmental quality varied among different geomorphic units. The expansion of construction land and degradation of forestland, grassland and wetland resulted in the deterioration of eco-environmental quality. The conversion of cropland and unused land into forestland and grassland, and the conversion of grassland into forestland were the main factors that drove the improvement of eco-environmental quality. The findings of this study may provide theoretical reference and support decision making for the optimization of land use structure and the improvement of eco-environmental quality on the Chinese Loess Plateau.


cropland degradation eco-environmental quality index grassland human activity unused land relative ecological value 


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This research was funded by the Special Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2014FY210100), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFD1100101) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41971204).


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Copyright information

© Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yongyong Song
    • 1
  • Dongqian Xue
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lanhai Dai
    • 1
  • Pengtao Wang
    • 2
  • Xiaogang Huang
    • 1
  • Siyou Xia
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Geography and TourismShaanxi Normal UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.School of Tourism & Research Institute of Human GeographyXi’an International Studies UniversityXi’anChina
  3. 3.School of Geography ScienceNanjing Normal UniversityNanjingChina

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