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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


Migration is one of the major socio-economic characteristics of China since the country adopted the policy of economic reform in late 1970s. Many studies have been dedicated to understand why and how people move, and the consequences of their welfare. The purpose of this study is to investigate the environmental impacts of the large scale movement of population in China. We analyzed the trend in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) along with China migration data from the 1 percent national survey during 1982-1987, the 4th national census during 1985-1990 and the 5th national census during1995~2000. We found that the internal migration in China has a statistically significant negative impact on vegetation growth at the provincial scale from 1982 to 2000 even though the overall vegetation abundance increased in China. The impact from migration (R2=0.47, P=0.0001) on vegetation dynamics is the second strongest as among the factors considered, including changes in annual mean air temperature (R2=0.50, P=0.0001) and annual total precipitation (R2=0.30, P=0.0049) and gross domestic production (R2= 0.25, P=0.0102). The negative statistical relationship between the rate of increase in total migration and the change in vegetation abundance is stronger (R2=0.56, P=0.0000) after controlling for the effects of changes in temperature and precipitation. In-migration dominates the impacts of migration on vegetation dynamics. Therefore, it is important for policy makers in China to take the impacts of migration on vegetation growth into account while making policies aiming at sustainable humanenvironment relations.


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This is an article published by MDPI AG in Sensors in 2008, available online: