Click here to access Dr Ying LONG's pictures taken in wilder areas.
Wilderness areas have great value and protection significance. China, however, has not yet conducted an up-to-date wilderness resources inventory. This study presents the first wilderness map for the continental areas in mainland China using a resolution of one square kilometer measuring unit. Based on the concept of the Wilderness Continuum, a classic wilderness mapping method is applied. A wilderness map is produced considering four key attributes of wildness assessments including remoteness from settlements, remoteness from access, and biophysical naturalness as well as the apparent naturalness of the landscape. The result is evaluated through combining them with equal weight using Multi-Criteria Evaluation (MCE). In the end, the Chinese Wilderness Index (WQI) Map distinguishing different levels of wilderness for the land evaluated is produced. According to the Chinese Wilderness Map, the five categories assigned including the high-quality wilderness, relatively high-quality wilderness, medium-quality wilderness, low-quality wilderness and other remaining areas, are respectively taken up to 4.3%, 12.4%, 11.9%, 24.0% and 47.4% of the total continental areas of China. This study describes the spatial distribution of wilderness areas in China for the first time, which is expected to provide an important basis for the development of wilderness protection policies in China, containing great contribution to the establishment of development plans of all kinds of protected areas and to a more scientific delineation of ecological protection redlines.
Wilderness mapping can provide valuable information for natural resource management. In this article, a novel, straightforward approach has been developed to identify wilderness areas in China using emerging new data. Tencent LBS (location based service) data that reflect human activities are used as a basis for mapping wilderness
characteristics for the whole of China while admitting non-human-activity zones as observed wilderness, rather than estimated/inferred wilderness using spatial factors based on conventional wilderness mapping approaches using GIS. The mapping results using new data are compared and integrated with the results from the MCE approach. The wilderness map, delineating the range of wilderness across the whole of China, could be used in landscape planning to protect the remaining natural resources and evaluate existing spatial ecological protection schemes. With increasingly available new data, the proposed approach can be applied for mapping wilderness at other spatial scales and in other geographical areas.