RS & GIS-based Spatialtemporal Analysis of Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity Pattern of Jinghe River Watershed in China: Does Supply Meet Demand?

23 January 2012

The Ecological Footprint methodology is a framework that tracks Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demands on the biosphere) by comparing human demand against the regenerative capacity (Biocapacity) of the planet (WWF, 2010) to advance the science of sustainability. As such, the spatiotemporal dynamics of the Ecological Footprint (EF) and Biocapacity (BC) in a given watershed are important topics in the field of sustainability research based on remote sensing (RS) data and geographic information system (GIS) techniques.This paper reports on a case study of the Jinghe River Watershed using improved EF methodology with the help of GIS and high resolution remote sensing data, to quantitatively estimate the relationship between EF demand and BC supply and analyze their spatial distribution patterns at multiple spatial scales for four periods (1986, 1995, 2000 and 2008). We predict the future BC both overall, and of six categories of biological productivity area for the next four decades using the Markov Chain Method.The results showed that the spatial distribution of EF demand and BC supply were significantly uneven in the region, in which the per-capita EF of all counties located in the watershed increased continually from 1986 to 2008, and the EF per person of counties in the middle and lower reaches area was markedly greater than that in the upper reaches over time. On the supply side, the per-capita BC of all counties decreased gradually from 1986 to 2008, and the per-capita BC of counties in the upper reaches area was greater than that in the middle and lower reaches during the period, causing the uneven spatial distribution of Ecological budget-the gap between supply and demand, showed that the Jinghe River Watershed on the whole has begun to be unsustainable since 2008, with each county exhibiting differential temporal patterns. The prediction results showed that the total BC will increase continually from 2020 to 2050, and the BC of six categories will reduce, indicating that unsustainability in the region will escalate. As a whole, The EF demand has exceeded the BC supply, and the gap was widening in the Jinghe Watershed. This paper provided an in-depth portrait of the spatiotemporal dynamics of EF and BC, as well as their interactions with humanity and ecosystems.