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J.-C. Svenning

Recent tree cover increases in eastern China linked to low, declining human pressure, steep topography, and climatic conditions favoring tree growth

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Globally, the extent of forest continues to decline, however, some countries have increased their forest extent in recent years. China is one of these countries and has managed to increase their tree cover through huge reforestation and afforestation programs during recent decades as well as land abandonment dynamics. This study investigates tree cover change in the eastern half of China between 2000 and 2010 on three different scales, using random forest modeling of remote sensing data for tree cover in relation to environmental and anthropogenic predictor variables. Our results show that between the years 2000 and 2010 2,667,875 km 2 experienced an increase in tree cover while 1,854,900 km(2) experienced a decline in tree cover. The area experiencing >= 10% increase in tree cover is almost twice as large as the area with >= 10% drop in tree cover. There is a clear relation between topography and tree cover change with steeper and mid-elevation areas having a larger response on tree cover increase than other areas. Furthermore, human influence, change in population density, and actual evapotranspiration are also important factors in explaining where tree cover has changed. This study adds to the understanding of tree cover change in China, as it has focus on the entire eastern half of China on three different scales and how tree cover change is linked to topography and anthropogenic pressure. Though, our results show an increase in tree cover in China, this study emphasizes the importance of incorporating anthropogenic factors together with biodiversity protection into the reforestation and afforestation programs in the future.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer0177552
TidsskriftP L o S One
Vol/bind12
Nummer6
Antal sider19
ISSN1932-6203
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 7 jun. 2017

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