The impacts of weather and conservation programs on vegetation dynamics in China's Loess Plateau

Dong Yan*, Kirsten M. de Beurs, Jianrong Fan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


We present an analysis of the impacts of weather change and large-scale vegetation conservation programs on the vegetation dynamics in China's Loess Plateau from 2000 through 2009. We employed a multiple lines of evidence approach in which multi-scale data were used. We employed Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data, acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) at 500 m to identify significant vegetation increases in the Loess Plateau since 2000. We found increases in NDVI for 48% of the Loess Plateau between 2000 and 2009. We were able to attribute up to 37.5% of the observed vegetation increases to weather change, vegetation conservation activities and crop yield increases. We demonstrate that the impact of vegetation conservation programs on vegetation change in the Loess Plateau is twofold. On the one hand, vegetation conservation programs target marginal lands. Thus, significant vegetation increases due to cropland conversion and afforestation can be found in these regions. On the other hand, intensified agricultural production can be found in croplands with suitable topography and well-established irrigation systems, which were not enrolled in conservation programs to offset the agricultural production loss caused by vegetation conservation programs elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-594
Number of pages22
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservation programs
  • The Loess Plateau
  • Weather change


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