Large-scale deforestation of mountainous areas during the 21st Century in Zhejiang Province

Bo Xiong, Ruishan Chen, Zilong Xia, Chao Ye, Yaakov Anker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Deforestation affects environmental systems worldwide by increasing disaster risk and carbon emissions and also by reducing soil fertility rejuvenation and biodiversity. Here, we inspected the patterns and processes of deforestation in Zhejiang Province of China since 2000 under a background of national forest restoration. By integrating the Hansen high-resolution forest cover change products and a field study, the relationship between forest loss dynamics and topography and also the proximity to settlement and rivers, were evaluated. The results show that the total forest loss in Zhejiang Province was 266,984 ha in 2001–2018. Forest loss magnitude reached a maximum in 2008 and has maintained a high level of annual loss about 17,000 ha since. While forest loss patches are mainly located on the mountaintops, the slope and altitude of the deforested patches reached maximal values in 2008, and both of them decreased since then even though the amount of forest loss remains high. The most significant forest loss was recorded at the south of Zhejiang Province around Lishui City and the least forest loss was in the area of Jiaxing city near Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang Province. The area of deforestation decreases while the distance to settlements increases. We analyze the spatiotemporal characteristics and potential factors that affect deforestation in Zhejiang Province and highlight the role of market and policy, which transformed land use. This study further enriches the forest transition theory and provides a basis for the future decision making on clearing forest for compensating farmland loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1761-1774
Number of pages14
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Issue number14
StatePublished - 30 Aug 2020


  • Zhejiang Province
  • deforestation
  • land use policy
  • mountain area
  • urbanization


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