Human-Environment Interactions and Land Use Dynamics

This research explored the complex interactions between humans and the environment and how these interactions drive land-use changes that are critical for global processes such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem degradation.

Qi Zhang, a post-doctoral associate from 2018-2020, seeks to understand these land-use dynamics by conducting research at various scales to monitor land-use and land-cover change with remote sensing analysis, and by exploring coupled human-environmental dynamics with land-use models involving human decision-making. His recent research focuses on developing an agent-based model to simulate decision-making processes at the household level under the impacts of forest conservation policies with payments for ecosystem services (PES) in China. The model integrates spatial and socioeconomic data and captures feedbacks between land-use change (e.g. cropland abandonment) and household livelihoods (e.g. labor outmigration) under various policy scenarios with different payment schemes.

The projections of social-ecological outcomes, including land-use patterns and household livelihood changes in a spatially explicit way, can help better align policy with local conditions. The research also aims to advance theories in land change science as a major component of global environmental change and sustainability science.