Assessing impacts of land use policies on environmental sustainability of oasis landscapes with scenario analysis: the case of northern China

Abstract

Context

Oases in China are experiencing large-scale land use/cover change (LUCC), which profoundly affects regional sustainability. To improve sustainability, a series of land-use policies has been implemented. Can these policies effectively promote the sustainable development of oases in China? To answer this question, comprehensively examining the effects of the land-use policies on future LUCC and oasis landscape sustainability is urgently needed; however, such research is currently lacking.

Objectives

This study aims to evaluate the impacts of major land-use policies on future LUCC and the environmental sustainability of oasis landscapes.

Method

Taking the Zhangye Oasis as an example, we first developed 56 scenarios with different combinations of six land-use policies. Then, we simulated the LUCC between 2017 and 2050 under the 56 scenarios. Finally, we assessed the impacts of future LUCC on three key ecosystem services (ESs) and the water stress index.

Results

We found that the examined land-use policies could effectively control the sprawl of built-up areas, maintain croplands, and promote increases in forest and marsh, improving regional ESs. However, these policies will lead to an increase in water consumption, which will exacerbate regional water stress. Thus, these land-use policies cannot comprehensively improve oasis landscape sustainability.

Conclusions

This paper systematically examines the impacts of six land-use policies on the environmental sustainability of oasis landscapes and reveals that these policies will increase ESs but cause further water shortages. Therefore, strengthening the integrated management of water and land resources is urgently needed to improve current land-use policies and oasis landscape sustainability in a more comprehensive manner.

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Data availability

The data are available in electronic supplementary materials.

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Acknowledgements

We want to express our respect and gratitude to Yanmin Yang, Bing Li, Benxin Chen and Yihang Wang for their help. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41871185) and the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program (Grant No. 2019QZKK0405). It was also supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41971271) and a project from the State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, China.

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Correspondence to Zhifeng Liu.

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Gong, B., Liu, Z. Assessing impacts of land use policies on environmental sustainability of oasis landscapes with scenario analysis: the case of northern China. Landscape Ecol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-020-01065-x

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Keywords

  • Landscape sustainability
  • Ecosystem services
  • Water scarcity
  • Land system change
  • Urbanization
  • Drylands