Analysis of the policy influencing factors of China's greenness spatial-temporal change and its relationship with poverty

Student thesis: PhD Thesis


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the United Nations highlight the importance of ecology, environment, and vegetation on both global and regional scales. The conditions of greenness are also different from countries and regions with different development situations and natural environment. In China, the ecologically fragile areas are located in the regions with prominent ecological issues, economic backwardness and harsh living environment. Problems once faced in these areas include climate drought, degradation of cultivated land and woodland, natural disasters, prominent contradiction between human and land, etc, these restrictions resulted in high poverty levels. In recent years, poverty alleviation policy has gradually achieved remarkable results, and vegetation protection and restoration showed positive trend in China. So, it is important to address the balance between poverty alleviation and the environment with sustainable development measures and promote vegetation protection, agricultural production and income to complement each other. Based on this context, the objective of the thesis is to interpret research questions: (1) How the natural, human activities and policy make impacts on ecological environment from different perspectives, and to understand and explore the ecological environment, poverty issues and their relationships in China. (2) How did these two key issues as well as their influencing factors changed from the national level in the past 20 years. (3) How did the effects of improving and protecting the ecological environment, as well as poverty alleviation go through when policy implementation focuses on a small region.

For the methods conducted in this thesis, I analysed the vegetation greenness spatial-temporal change trend and poverty condition by using remote sensing MODIS Leaf Area Index, statistical socioeconomic datasets with geostatistic modelling (Bayesian Spatial-Temporal Model and Spatial Autocorrelation Analysis), identified their coupling relationships and the influences of natural, human activity and Grain to Green policy factors. Also, in order to focus on policy factor, fixed-effect model was used to identify the impacts of afforestation policy excluding natural factors on different regions, including whole country, poverty areas, selected ecological projects implemented areas and ecological geographical divisions. For further region-scaling study with narrow scope and more practical explorations in detailed, a county-level case study in Hubei province in China was selected to explore how the ecological poverty alleviation policy make influence for both ecological effects and poverty alleviation effects regionally by using Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Model (PLS-SEM) with datasets supported by the investigation from IGSNRR, CAS.

The results showed that: In poverty-stricken areas in China, there was 59% area presents positive greenness increasing trend from 2000-2020. The spatial autocorrelation of poverty is gradually decreasing, and the mutual influence of poverty in adjacent areas is decreasing. In the coupling relationship between poverty and greenness, the higher the degree of greenness increases, the stronger the positive promotion between poverty alleviation and ecological environment. Natural geographical factors and the Grain to Green Policy have the greatest and significant influence on the change of greenness. Following the results of the research on poverty-stricken areas, the zoning country-level research provides a more focused analysis on the impact of afforestation policy. The greenness in China shows an increase under the afforestation policy implementing, but population density offset the policy’s effectiveness. The contribution of afforestation policy in non-poverty areas is about 13.08% higher than that in poverty-stricken areas. By comparing the areas where ecological projects are implemented and not implemented, the afforestation policy contributed 18.18% more to the greenness of the former than the latter. After controlling the natural geographical and climatic conditions according to ecological geographical division, the result exhibits a certain degree of spatial heterogeneity which is different from that of the whole country, poverty area and no- poverty, ecological projects area and non-ecological projects area. When the perspective is reduced to regional research, the empirical research of ecological poverty alleviation policy in Chongyang County, Hubei Province, it was explored by the field investigation and the statistical datasets for the influencing two pathways and the manifestation behind it. The results explained 40.2% and 50.7% of the variance in poverty effects and ecological effects, respectively, attributed to the ecological poverty alleviation policy. Grain to Green and ecological poverty alleviation position participates played main roles. Moreover, the negative coefficient, -1.236 of poverty households indicates that this policy helps decrease the number of poverty households.

It could be concluded that: from 2000 to 2020, in the condition of improved greenness and poverty alleviation, the impact of natural factors and poverty on vegetation greenness decreased, the impact of Grain to Green Policy increased, and the interaction and superposition of Grain to Green Policy and poverty also increased, so people should focus on utilizing the positive synergy between improved greenness and poverty alleviation and implementing favourable policies to achieve a win-win situation. Under constrained natural conditions, the afforestation policy plays positive roles in increasing greenness in these areas with differentiation. So implementing large-scale ecological policy, should consider regional characteristics and whether there is also policy with mutual influence, to maximize their advantages. For the local perspective, the positive poverty alleviation and ecological effects of LAI, biodiversity, and climate are all enhanced following two pathways, it is crucial to gain comprehension and interpret scientific basis of the role of ecological poverty alleviation policy for formulating policy in specific area.

This study applied the effective methods in an innovative way to compensate for the research gap in the interplay between ecological processes, poverty dynamics, and sustainability related fields in China. Based on the common consideration of ecological environment and poverty, with the deep understanding of the vegetation greenness change, poverty alleviation, ecological poverty alleviation policy and their specific implementation effects in China. The results have reference value for framing a comprehensive pattern of the ecological environment, poverty alleviation and sustainability in accordance with local conditions and promoting the development of human-land relationship in China. For management departments, it is helpful to design policies within countries and regions based on an understanding of the driving factors. Ultimately, through better resource utilization conditions, the implementation of conservation and sustainable development can be achieved, and the indicators of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals can be promoted.
Date of Award13 Jul 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorNicholas Hamm (Supervisor), Yong GE (Supervisor) & Giles Foody (Supervisor)

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