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Free Content Land use dynamics, farmers' preferences and policy implications in the Jinghe watershed of remote north-western China

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This paper investigates the dynamics of land use patterns, contributory issues, farmers' preferences and policy implications in the Jinghe watershed of remote north-western China. Landsat TM data (using GIS) and primary data from participatory rural appraisal – a method rarely applied in China – and household surveys using weighted indices were analysed. Proportions of land use and landscape indices were applied to analyse changes in land use patterns. It was found that land use patterns remain relatively stable in the watershed region where arable land and grassland predominate, a situation that has not changed structurally for 10–20 years. In villages, however, structural changes in landscape patterns occurred with transitions from predominantly arable land to forest and grass. High values for dominance and contagion indices were found in counties with relatively simple land use patterns or agricultural land use, while low values for dominance and contagion indices were associated with diversified land use involving agriculture, forest and grassland. Government intervention, market demand, personal considerations and growing environmental concerns are perceived by farmers as major factors leading to land use change. The local people prefer to grow food crops to ensure food security rather than to manage forest and grassland. This calls for a comprehensive natural resource conservation strategy, which should be based on building resource conservation into policy making; institutional reform with local participation; promotion of indigenous technology for resource conservation and management; and population control.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2007

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  • Outlook on Agriculture is an international peer-review journal devoted to agricultural science, policy and strategy. The journal is published quarterly and provides analysis, reviews and commentary for an international and interdisciplinary readership. Special attention is paid to agricultural policy, international trade in the agricultural sector, strategic developments in food production, the role of agriculture in social and economic development, agriculture in developing countries, and environmental issues. Readers include academics, policy makers and practitioners. For more details go to
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