PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (10): 1328-1339.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2018.10.003

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Spatiotemporal evolution and driving forces of natural capital utilization in China based on three-dimensional ecological footprint

Defeng ZHENG(), Xiaoxing LIU, Yanyan WANG, Leting LV   

  1. School of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, Liaoning, China
  • Received:2018-04-20 Revised:2018-06-14 Online:2018-10-28 Published:2018-10-28
  • Supported by:
    National Social Science Foundation of China, No. 17BJL105


Dynamic assessment of natural capital utilization can help to track consumption demand of residents and ecological sustainability of regions. To date, studies on natural capital utilization in China's provinces based on the three-dimensional ecological footprint has only measured and evaluated the spatial patterns of regional natural capital stock and flow from the perspective of production. In this study, the footprint depth and size of regions and different land use types in 30 provinces (municipalities, autonomous regions) of China from 2006 to 2015 were first calculated from the consumption perspective. Then the regional sustainability of natural capital utilization was characterized by utilization ratio of stock to flow and occupancy rate of capital flows. Lastly, the driving factors and effects of natural capital utilization were quantified by the methods of ordinary least squares (OLS) and geographically weighted regression (GWR). The results are as follows: (1) China's footprint depth was highly consistent with the changing trend of ecological footprint and ecological deficit—it showed a trend of first growing and then decreasing during 2006 to 2015, and the value changed from 3.04 to 4.06. The main reason is that the continuous rising trend of ecological pressure was reversed due to the reduced contribution of fossil energy land. Ecological footprint depth presented significant differences from east to west—in Shanghai it is up to 30.69 and in Qinghai it is a minimum of 1.70. (2) Ecological footprint size in China was influenced by resource endowments and showed a small fluctuation through time, with an overall pattern of western region > central region > eastern region in space, and the maximum and minimum footprint sizes were respectively 0.81 ghm2 in Xinjiang and 0.09 ghm2 in Shanghai. Natural capital flow can be improved greatly in the central and western regions. (3) The main components of footprint depth in Chinese provinces were fossil energy land and grassland, and the utilization degrees of other lands varied in different regions. The main components of footprint size in Chinese provinces were cultivated land and construction land, followed by woodland, grassland and water area accounting for a small proportion. (4) The sustainability of natural capital utilization has become better in China, and it showed the spatial pattern of "weak east and strong west". By using OLS regression and GWR, we found that the significant factors that affected the sustainability of natural capital utilization were the intensity of ecological footprint, urbanization rate, and ecological carrying capacity. The influence degree of these factors in different geographical locations showed spatial differences.

Key words: three-dimensional ecological footprint, natural capital, sustainability, ordinary least squares analysis, geographical weighted regression, spatiotemporal evolution, China