Sustainable development in impoverished areas is still a global challenge owing to trade-offs between development and conservation. There are large poverty-stricken areas (PSAs) in China, which overlap highly with ecologically sensitive areas. China has made great efforts to alleviate poverty over the years. The coordinated relationship between the social economy and the environment in PSAs, however, remains under-recognized. This study developed a county-level index system encompassing the socioeconomic and environmental sectors of China's PSAs. The integrated indexes of the two sectors were developed to reveal the spatial–temporal socioeconomic and environmental patterns and coupling coordination degree (CCD) levels were calculated to assess the coordinated relationships between them. The CCD indicated the increasingly coordinated development of socioeconomic and environmental conditions in China's PSAs from 2000 to 2020. Meanwhile, although the socioeconomic index achieved considerable growth with a growth rate of 58.4%, the environmental index was mildly improved with a growth rate of 19.6%, instead of a reduction. PSAs still have a large gap in socioeconomic development compared to non-poor areas; however, PSAs perform better in environmental index. Overall, the increased coordinated development between the social economy and the environment from 2000 to 2020 can be attributed to China's long-term, large-scale, and targeted interventions in poverty reduction and environmental conservation. Further, benefiting from the geodiversity of China, we identified four poverty reduction models which include advantageously, sustained, periodic, and limited effective models, on the basis of CCD change patterns. The four models can provide valuable experience for the rest of the world in tackling similar trade-offs of poverty reduction and environmental challenges.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Coordinated development
- Poverty reduction