Ecological land can provide people with ecological products and ecological services; and it plays an important role in maintaining the health and safety of the ecosystem. With China's rapid urbanization development, ecological land has been invaded in large quantities, and damaged seriously, even resulting in loses of its ecological function. Based on land use data from 1995 to 2015, our study explores the spatial and temporal evolution of the damage or recovery of ecological land in the Yangtze River Economic Belt (YREB). Two spatial models, geographic detector and geographic weighted regression (GWR), were employed to assess the global effects and the local effects of the driving factors for ecological land change, respectively. Our study divided the ecological land change into five types based on the degree of change as severe damage, slight damage, unchanged, slight recovery, and obvious recovery. The results show that from 1995 to 2015, the total area of ecological land in the YREB increased initially and then decreased, but the overall trend was decreasing. The total damaged area was larger than the recovered area. Arable land and woodland both showed downward trends. In terms of ecological land change over the past 20 years, the type of unchanged had the largest area, followed by slight damage and slight recovery. Our study further revealed that ecological land change was the net result of the interaction of many factors, and the explanatory power between any two driving factors was greater than that of any individual driving factor. In addition, driving factors have different impacts on ecological land change in different geographical locations. This knowledge should help land managers and policymakers to be better informed when developing pertinent land use policies at the regional and local levels. The lessons can also be extended to other regions for better management of their ecological land for sustainable use.
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Vol. 12 • No. 2