Landuse and Land Cover Change in the Lunan Stone Forest, China
Chuanrong Zhang, Michael Day , Weidong Li - (32/2,2003)
The Lunan Stone Forest is the World's premier pinnacle karst landscape, with attendant scientific and cultural importance. Ecologically fragile, it is also a major tourist attraction, currently receiving over 1.5million visitors each year. Conservation efforts have been undermined by conflicting economic priorities, and landscape degradation threatens the very foundation of the national park. Assessment of the current land cover in the 35km2 core of the Stone Forest and an analysis of land cover change since 1974 in the 7km2 Major Stone Forest reveal the extent of recent landscape change. Exposed pinnacle karst covers 52% of the 35km2 study area, and about half of this is vegetated. Land use is dominated by agriculture, particularly in the valleys, but much of the shilin is devegetated and about six percent of the area is now built-up. Within the 7km2 Major Stone Forest the built-up area increased from 0.15ha in 1974 to 38.68ha by 2001, and during that same period road length increased by 95%, accompanied by a 3% decrease in surface water area. Between 1980 and 2001, annual visitor numbers increased from 139,000 to 1,500,000 - a ten-fold increase. The need to reconcile economic development and landscape conservation involves both short-term versus long-term benefit and also the conservation of natural and cultural heritage.