A multilevel analysis of effects of land use policy on land-cover change and local land use decisions

Jing Zhang, Jianming Niu, Alexander Buyantuev, Jianguo Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Drylands, which occupy more than 40% of the Earth's land surface, are highly susceptible to degradation. It is important to understand causes, mechanisms, and environmental consequences of dryland ecosystem degradation. Land use policies are known to play a critical role in driving land cover changes, as well as in mitigating land degradation and promoting sustainable development in drylands. We analyzed the effects of different policies on vegetation cover and the attitude of local people toward policy changes in Uxin county, Inner Mongolia, China, based on remote sensed Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) time series and household surveys. Overall vegetation in the study area was found to recover during 1987-2007. Multilevel statistical modeling results demonstrated that NDVI, density of agricultural population, density of livestock, land use, accessibility to market, and mean annual precipitation all had significant effects on re-vegetation. Changes in land use policy, which restricted farmers and herdsmen in certain land use practices and eliminated rangeland overload, were found to be an important driver of vegetation recovery during 1997-2007. Local households in the area generally approve the policy but adjust it according to their cultural traditions or land use practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Desertification
  • Household
  • Multi-scale drivers
  • Multilevel statistical model
  • Policy change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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