Evaluation of Phosphorus Flows in the Dianchi Watershed, Southwest of China

Liu Yi, J. Chen, A.P.J. Mol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental problems are closely related to human societies' processing of materials. Along with a rapid economic growth, lake eutrophication has received broad attention in the last two decades in China. As phosphorus is the dominant nutrient in lake environments, this study attempts to examine how human societies extract, utilize and release phosphorus which subsequently leads to eutrophication. Applying substance flow analysis (SFA) approach for the case of Dianchi Lake in southern China, this study establishes a statistical model by balancing the physical quantities of phosphorus flows in 2000. Resource extraction, phosphate industries, agricultural production, livestock breeding, and human living are given focused attentions in the SFA model. The results showed water environment is largely dependent on the local phosphorus metabolism, and thus, if the related phosphorus flows, particularly referring to recycling and wastes flows, could not be re-organized towards a more ecological direction, Dianchi Lake would be unavoidably and continuously suffering eutrophication. Aiming at ecological restructuring of the phosphorus metabolism with respect to economic efficiency and environmental effectiveness, critical options are discussed and future directions in relation to both societal and policy aspects are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-656
JournalPopulation and Environment
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • environment
  • economy

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