PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2013, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (8): 1246-1256.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2013.08.008

• Agricultural Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Simulation of the changes of farmer households’land-use behaviors in response to China’s Grain to Green policy: A case study in Gaoqu Commune of Mizhi County, Shaanxi Province

CHEN Hai1,2, XI Jing1, LIANG Xiaoying1, CHEN Shanshan1   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environmental Science, Northwest University, Xi'an 710127, China;
    2. Institute of Soil andWater Conservation, CAS and Minstry ofWater Resources, Yangling 712100, China
  • Received:2012-12-01 Revised:2013-04-01 Online:2013-08-25 Published:2013-08-25

Abstract: Analyzing the interactions between environmental policies and farmers' responses is an important dimension to understand the sustainability of agro-ecosystems. China's Grain to Green (GTG) policy has been the most influential one that has drawn the biggest participation from the farmers in the contemporary history of China. To what extent the implementation of the GTG policy has affected regional land-use changes and farmers' land-use behaviors at the household level in particular, has been a critical issue that concerned by both policy makers and researchers. This empirical study identified how the implementation of GTG policy during 1999-2006 has impacted farmers' land-use behaviors, and designed a "Farmer Group Decision-Making Model" to simulate the probability of land-use change in the case study area of Mizhi County of Shaanxi Province. Elevation, slope, and heterogeneous characteristics of the farmer households under study were identified to be the key factors influencing farmers' land-use decision-making process and land-use pattern. Classification and Regression Tree were used to classify farmer household groups, and Experience-Weighted Attraction learning model was used to analyze the land use behavior's change before and after the GTG policy. The results showed that farm households' land-use behaviors, namely land reclamation and land abandonment in the study area, has been significantly affected by the GTG program in China since 1999, and the results of simulation in the study showed that possible consequences of land reclamation and abandonment co-exist under all policy scenarios. The spatial distribution and magnitude of land to be affected by such land-use behaviors vary among the villages in the study area. Policy recommendations based on the findings of this study relate to how to protect the effectiveness of the GTG program and to improve the efficient use of the under-used farmland. How and to what extent distance and kinship affect farm households' land-use behavior need to be explored in future research.

Key words: Grain to Green policy, land use behavior, land-use strategies, Mizhi County, Shaanxi Province, policy scenarios