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Land Use and Land Cover Change in the Kailash Sacred Landscape of China

Author:
Duan, Cheng  Shi, Peili  Song, Minghua  Zhang, Xianzhou  Zong, Ning  Zhou, Caiping  


Journal:
SUSTAINABILITY


Issue Date:
2019


Abstract(summary):

Land use and land cover change (LUCC) is an important driver of ecosystem function and services. Thus, LUCC analysis may lay foundation for landscape planning, conservation and management. It is especially true for alpine landscapes, which are more susceptible to climate changes and human activities. However, the information on LUCC in sacred landscape is limited, which will hinder the landscape conservation and development. We chose Kailash Sacred Landscape in China (KSL-China) to investigate the patterns and dynamics of LUCC and the driving forces using remote sensing data and meteorological data from 1990 to 2008. A supervised classification of land use and land cover was established based on field survey. Rangelands presented marked fluctuations due to climatic warming and its induced drought, for example, dramatic decreases were found in high- and medium-cover rangelands over the period 2000-2008. And recession of most glaciers was also observed in the study period. Instead, an increase of anthropogenic activities accelerated intensive alteration of land use, such as conversion of cropland to built-up land. We found that the change of vegetation cover was positively correlated with growing season precipitation (GSP). In addition, vegetation cover was substantially reduced along the pilgrimage routes particularly within 5 km of the routes. The findings of the study suggest that climatic warming and human disturbance are interacted to cause remarkable LUCC. Tourism development was responsible land use change in urban and pilgrimage routes. This study has important implications for landscape conservation and ecosystem management. The reduction of rangeland cover may decrease the rangeland quality and pose pressure for the carrying capacity of rangelands in the KSL-China. With the increasing risk of climate warming, rangeland conservation is imperative. The future development should shift from livestock-focus animal husbandry to service-based ecotourism in the sacred landscape.


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