Dynamic land use and its policy in response to environmental and socialeconomic changes in China: A case study of the Jiangsu coast (1750–2015)

With the rapid industrialization and urbanization, China’s mainland coasts have witnessed an increasing challenge
of sustainable development. Policy-making and management in coastal development also need an in-depth
understanding of long term land use changes. Historically, coastal land use and its policy in China experienced a
complex and tortuous evolution from the preindustrial era to modern times. However, there is a lack of detailed
treatment in previous studies, about the issues of the policy response to environmental and social-economic
conditions. Using an approach of historical document analysis and multidisciplinary synthesis, based on the case
from the Jiangsu coast, we explore the land use changes and its policy response for China’s mainland coasts on a
centennial time scale. The results show that the land use policy had different performances in response to the
changes of environment and social-economy at different stages, with a dynamic shift from passive to active
response. During the 18–19th centuries, the management framework was associated with the monopolized land
use policy that was dominated by the government's interests of salt industry; there were few initiatives to take
into account the environment changes and stakeholder conflicts. Yet, during the 20th century, the emphasis of
the policy was placed on reclamation and diversified industry, reflecting the pressure from the coastal environment
change and social-economic situation. At the same time, the adjustment of land use policy became
more frequent. Population growth and physical environment change are the two major driving forces for the
observed shifts. The study on the long term change of land use and policy response for China’s mainland coasts
may provide a reference frame to be considered for future sustainable development and adaptation.
Land Use Policy
Junlin Bao, Shu Gao⁎, Jianxiong Ge