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Identification of landscape character types for trans-regional integration in the Wuling Mountain multi-ethnic area of southwest China

Li, Guo, Zhang, Bin
Landscape and urban planning 2017 v.162 pp. 25-35
Chinese people, algorithms, cultural landscape, geographic information systems, globalization, land cover, livelihood, minorities (people), modernization, planning, population density, China
In China, 55 ethnic minority groups, accounting for 8.49% of the total population, live on 64.2% of the total land area. In the context of globalization and modernization, these areas retain a wealth of natural and cultural landscape types. Few studies have been conducted on landscape character on a regional scale in China, and to the best of our knowledge, none in multi-ethnic areas. Our study site was Wuling Mountain, which is located in southwest China and populated by multi-ethnic communities. Nine minorities including the Dong, Gelao, Miao, and Tujia have lived in the area for generations, coexisting with Han Chinese. We analyzed trans-regional data to visualize and identify the landscape character types of Wuling Mountain at two levels. The types were characterized at a resolution of 1km2 based on elevation, relief amplitude, land cover, and ethnic population density. The latter, as a special cultural variable of a multi-ethnic area, indirectly reflects the regional differences in the lives and livelihood activities of different ethnic groups. We used the affinity propagation (AP) algorithm based on a bottom-up approach of a combination of the geographic information system (GIS). The results highlighted the inhabited landscape characteristics of different combinations of minority ethnic populations and the key landscape characteristics that could be used as a basis for the development of trans-regional protection, management, and planning of the natural and cultural landscape in this multi-ethnic area.