Integrated Analysis and Modeling of Land Use Efficiency and Security under Rapid Agricultural Transformation due to Urban-Rural Dynamics in China

This joint project of the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) develops an integrated methodology for investigating the interplay between urban development and ecological stress in rural mountain areas in China.

The interactions between human and ecological systems contribute to socio-spatial marginalization, and increase the vulnerability of people and places. Not only in China, but also in many other countries, urbanization and induced land-cover changes will affect both the earth’s biosphere and the quality of human life for generations to come. In the process of industrial development and urbanization, countries often experience a land use transition, in the course of which agricultural land contracts and concentrates as well as forests and grassland expand. At a first glance this may seem to be a "win-win" situation, with society benefiting from fast economic development, and ecological conservation also improving because of the easing of human pressure on remote and ecologically sensitive areas. In reality, the trend has a number of adverse implications, related to expanding land use, rush rural-urban migration, abandonment of rural areas and land marginalization, absence of sufficient social security and health provision in rural and urban areas, and decreasing food and environmental securities.

The integrated methodology being developed by this project is applied and explored in a case study of regions to reveal the linkages between urbanization, rural labor abundance, and land cover change. The project works on the hypothesis that marginalization of agricultural land in the ecologically vulnerable study regions is driven by the rising opportunity cost of rural labor. This is a process that leads not only to abandonment of marginal farmland in favor of off-farm employment, but also to land use intensification, mechanization, and changes in crop portfolios and agricultural practices.The methodology supports the analysis of land transformation and marginalization processes as being the result of complex dependencies between urban and rural sectors, as well as government policies and interventions. Both the current drivers and possible trends of the processes are being analyzed.

Prof. Yurii Yermoliev and Prof. Laixiang Sun, together with Prof. Xiubin Lee from the Institute of Geographic Science and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, are Principal Investigators of the joint project between IIASA and China.

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Last edited: 28 May 2014


Yurii Yermoliev

Institute Scholar

Advanced Systems Analysis

T +43(0) 2236 807 208


2012 - 2017

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313