Resources Science ›› 2018, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (4): 655-663.doi: 10.18402/resci.2018.04.01

• Orginal Article •     Next Articles

A review on evaluating methods of regional resources and environment carrying capacity

Fangqu NIU1,2(), Zhiming FENG1, Hui LIU1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research,Chinese Academy of Sciences,Beijing 100101, China
    2. Collaborative Innovation Center for Geopolitical Setting of Southwest China and Borderland Development, Kunming 650500, China
  • Received:2017-08-01 Revised:2018-02-07 Online:2018-05-02 Published:2018-05-02


China is now experiencing increasing resource consumption and environmental deterioration because of rapid economic development and urbanization. Research on resources and environmental capacity is becoming focused. Here we systematically reviewed and analyzed research in China and abroad, focusing on evaluation methods. Based on research gaps, it could be drawn that there is no generally accepted definition or consensus of resource and environmental capacity, which leads to differences in methodologies and conclusions. The maximum population, ecological footprint, and emergy are often used methodologies to evaluate regional resources and environmental capacity taking ecological system and socio-economic system as a black box. There is a lack of research into interaction mechanisms between them, and political implications are weak. These methods are not suitable to evaluate carrying capacity at regional scales. Research integrating regional economy, population, resources and the ecological environment remains to be furthered in relation to both theories and techniques. Defining resources and environmental capacity using the maximum number of populations that can be carried as indicator, we discussed the dimension of resources and environmental capacity and developed an evaluation process. According to this process, determining factors and socio-economic influencing factors as well as the interaction mechanism of them need to be identified first, then to evaluate the carrying capacity of each socio-economic factors, and comprehensive regional resource and environmental capacity based on mutual restraint of these factors. The evaluation of resources and environmental capacity requires much future work.

Key words: resources and environmental carrying capacity, carrying status, evaluating methods, constraint factors, social economy, review