Based on the Ecological Footprint Model, a Sustainability Index is put forward to measure the degree of regional sustainable development. Using correlation and sensitivity analysis, this study explored the level of sustainable development in the Xingguo County of China from 1996 to 2005, and revealed the driving factors of human activities on sustainable development. The results indicate that the consumption footprint of biological resources in the study area shows a slow, fluctuating upward trend. The increasing ratio of ecological carrying capacity is greater than that of per capita ecological carrying capacity. The values of the sustainable index range from 0.5 to 0.6 (which means unsafe), and it shows a slowly increasing trend. This indicates that the rate of population growth is faster than that of ecological recovery and improvement, which is beyond the bearing capacity of the ecological environment. The Sustainability Index in the study area has a significantly positive correlation with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) urbanization level and this has a significantly negative correlation with the proportion of primary industry. The Sustainability Index in the study area is more sensitive to population growth, followed by a decrease in primary industries.
Key words: Sustainability Index, ecological footprint, sensitivity analysis, regional sustainable development.
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