Comparing forest fragmentation and its drivers in China and the USA with Globcover v2.2

J Environ Manage. 2010 Dec;91(12):2572-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2010.07.010. Epub 2010 Aug 10.


Forest loss and fragmentation are of major concern to the international community, in large part because they impact so many important environmental processes. The main objective of this study was to assess the differences in forest fragmentation patterns and drivers between China and the conterminous United States (USA). Using the latest 300-m resolution global land cover product, Globcover v2.2, a comparative analysis of forest fragmentation patterns and drivers was made. The fragmentation patterns were characterized by using a forest fragmentation model built on the sliding window analysis technique in association with landscape indices. Results showed that China's forests were substantially more fragmented than those of the USA. This was evidenced by a large difference in the amount of interior forest area share, with China having 48% interior forest versus the 66% for the USA. China's forest fragmentation was primarily attributed to anthropogenic disturbances, driven particularly by agricultural expansion from an increasing and large population, as well as poor forest management practices. In contrast, USA forests were principally fragmented by natural land cover types. However, USA urban sprawl contributed more to forest fragmentation than in China. This is closely tied to the USA's economy, lifestyle and institutional processes. Fragmentation maps were generated from this study, which provide valuable insights and implications regarding habitat planning for rare and endangered species. Such maps enable development of strategic plans for sustainable forest management by identifying areas with high amounts of human-induced fragmentation, which improve risk assessments and enable better targeting for protection and remediation efforts. Because forest fragmentation is a long-term, complex process that is highly related to political, institutional, economic and philosophical arenas, both nations need to take effective and comprehensive measures to mitigate the negative effects of forest loss and fragmentation on the existing forest ecosystems.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Ecosystem*
  • Forestry*
  • Geography*
  • Humans
  • Satellite Communications
  • United States