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Ecological Footprint Analysis Based on Changing Food Consumption in a Poorly Developed Area of China

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  • Lin Zhen

    () (Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
    School of Resource and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yuquan Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100109, China)

  • Bingzhen Du

    () (Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China)

Abstract

The per capita ecological footprint (EF) is a useful tool to compare consumption with nature's ability to support this consumption. Guyuan is an economically impoverished region in China, where EF provides important insights into whether human consumption can be sustained by the local per capita biological capacity (BC), which represents the environment’s ability to support resource use. We estimated the EF of food consumption using local equivalence and yield factors, and compared EF in 1998 and 2013 with BC, which represented the existing biologically productive area (including cultivated land, grassland, forest, and water bodies) that supports this consumption. Data were collected from household surveys, government statistics, and land use maps. We found that food consumption changed, with decreasing consumption of staple foods and increasing consumption of meat, eggs, milk, edible oils, fruit, and vegetables. Decreased staple food consumption decreased the EF for this food group, but the large increase in meat consumption greatly increased EF from meat production (to more than 41 times the 1998 value). Cultivated land contributed greatly to both EF and BC, and staple foods and vegetables were the main EF components for this land. Overall, EF from food consumption decreased from 1998 to 2013, but local BC remained 188,356 ha below EF (i.e., current consumption is not sustainable based on local resources). The Grain for Green program, which focuses on increasing the BC of forest and grassland by replacing degraded cultivated land with these land use types, decreased the BC of cultivated land, leading to wide spatial variation in both EF and BC. These results will inform policy development by revealing the condition of each region’s use of the locally available production resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Lin Zhen & Bingzhen Du, 2017. "Ecological Footprint Analysis Based on Changing Food Consumption in a Poorly Developed Area of China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(8), pages 1-18, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:8:p:1323-:d:109299
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chuxiong Deng & Zhen Liu & Rongrong Li & Ke Li, 2018. "Sustainability Evaluation Based on a Three-Dimensional Ecological Footprint Model: A Case Study in Hunan, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(12), pages 1-22, November.
    2. Zhichao Xue & Lin Zhen, 2018. "Impact of Rural Land Transfer on Land Use Functions in Western China’s Guyuan Based on a Multi-Level Stakeholder Assessment Framework," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(5), pages 1-21, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    food consumption; ecological footprint; biological capacity; carrying capacity; household survey; Guyuan;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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