THE AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES IN CHINA
Zhao Songqiao, (Institute of Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Abstract China has the longest and continuous agricultural history in the world, with a spanof 80 centuries. She has also the largest population in the world, with a total of 1. 1 billion.Consequently, human activities, especially agricultural development, exert very great impactson China's geographical environment. Practically no more virgin land and primitive vegeta-tion exist in China; mankind has made his imprints nearly everywhere. China's geographical environment is varied, both in space and in time. Seven agricul-tural regions might be identified. Each region has its specific natural conditions and differentagricultural features. Environmental changes in China during the historical time are mainly an interplay be-tween natural conditions and human activities (especially agricultural impact). Some are'positive', such as land reclamation and oases-making (de-desertification), water conservancyand irrigation, crops and livestock domestication, plain-forests planting, etc. Yet, more are'negative', such as draught hazard, flood hazard and water-logging, shifting sand (desertifi-cation), salinization, deforestation, fauna extinction, soil erosion and montane hazards. Forall these environmental changes, human activities are the decisive factor. When geographicalenvironment is nicely and rationally managed, positive environmental changes will be in up-per hand; but if misused or overused, negative environmental changes will eventually domi-nate.