Mapping China's Wilderness

International Journal of Wilderness, August 2018, Volume 24, Number 2

Photo by Joshua Sortino/Zhangjiajie, Huaihua, China

A Preliminary Study on Mapping Wilderness in Mainland China


Article by Cao Yue, Yang Rui, Long Ying, Steve Carver

Wilderness areas are, in the main, places that are ecologically intact, mostly free of industrial infrastructure, and without significant human interference. With a growing appreciation of the intrinsic value of wilderness, more attention is being paid to wilderness protection and management especially as threats increase and remaining wilderness areas shrink in size (Casson et al. 2016).

Practical experience in many countries has shown that maps depicting the spatial distribution of wilderness provide baseline information for the development and implementation of wilderness protection policies. Accurate and reliable wilderness inventories are an essential basis for robust designation of wilderness protected areas and the development of associated management policies.

Due to the lack of a wilderness inventory in China, the total area and the spatial distribution of wilderness are neither known nor fully understood. This places considerable restrictions on wilderness protection. This article therefore focuses on identifying and understanding the spatial distribution of wilderness in mainland China to provide a practical basis for the future development of Chinese wilderness protection policies (Cao et al. 2017).

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