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Presentation

2nd Revision

Introduction

 
Data - Cultivated Land
Reconstruction of Cultivated Land Area in China, 1988 - 1995

Reported

Corrected Land Area

Year

Total
Beginning

1

Increase
2

Decrease
3

Net
Change

4

Total
Year End

5

Under-
Reported

6

Total
Beginning

7

Total
Year End

8

1988

122,602.8

372.0

676.3

-304.3

122,298.4

10,536.5

132,834.9

132,530.5

1989

121,967.2

388.3

417.3

-29.0

121,938.2

10,592.4

132,530.5

132,501.5

1990

122,409.7

446.2

346.4

99.8

122,509.5

9,992.0

132,501.5

132,601.4

1991

123,260.9

425.1

448.3

-23.3

123,237.6

9,363.7

132,601.4

132,578.1

1992

124,422.5

412.4

707.3

-294.9

124,127.6

8,450.5

132,578.1

132,283.2

1993

126,674.1

302.4

625.3

-322.8

126,351.3

5,931.9

132,283.2

131,960.4

1994

130,306.2

346.9

785.2

-438.3

129,867.9

2,092.5

131,960.4

131,522.0

1995

131,522.0

388.9

798.1

-409.1

131,112.9

409.1

131,522.0

131,112.9

Source: State Land Administration, Statistical Information on the Land of China in 1995. Beijing, 1996. And equivalent reports for 1988 to 1994.
The IIASA Land-use Change Project has received detailed statistics from the Chinese State Land Administration, which describe increases and decreases of various types of cultivated land in China (see source above). This summary table gives the total cultivated land at the beginning (column 1) and at the end of each year (column 5), as well as the corresponding increases, decreases and net-change (columns 2 - 4).
As can be seen from comparing column 5 of year x with column 1 of year x+1, there is a discrepancy in the reported size of cultivated land. The changes in cultivated land (increases and decreases) do not add-up to the initial cultivated land size of the subsequent year. The reason for this discrepancy is the underreported size of China's stock of cultivated land.
When we assume that the "flow-data" (increase or decline) are relatively correct, and when we further assume that the 1995 year-end estimate of the total cultivated land area is the most accurate, then we can recalculate the amount of under-reporting in previous years. Columns 6, 7 and 8 show the results of this reconstruction. The 1995 year-end size of the cultivated area was reported at 131.1 million hectares (column 8 and 5). Now we subtract the 1995 net-change in cultivated land (409.1 thousand hectares), so that we get the initial 1995 cultivated land size - which is, of course, equivalent to the 1994 year-end size (column 7 in 1995 and column 8 in 1994). By repeating this simple procedure for all previous years we can reconstruct China's cultivated land area from the reported land-use changes (which we consider more accurate than the estimate of the total stock).
The difference between the reported (column 5) and reconstructed (column 8) size of China's cultivated land is the amount under-reported (column 6). In the late 1980s and early 1990s the underreporting was around 10 million hectares. By 1994 it had declined to about 2 million hectares.
However, please note that this calculation is based on the cultivated land estimate of the Chinese State Land Administration, which was already significantly higher than the numbers reported in the China Statistical Yearbook: For 1988 the State Land Administration had reported a cultivated land area of 122.6 million hectares (year-beginning), while the Statistical Yearbook published the notorious 95 million hectares (which where known to be underreported).
Now our calculations show that the cultivated land must have been even larger than the initial estimate of the State Land Administration: in 1988 China had a (corrected) cultivated land area of 132.5 million hectares - it slightly declined to 131.1 million hectares in 1995.
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Revision 2.0 (First revision published in 1999)  - Copyright 2011 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved. (First revision: Copyright 1999 by IIASA.)