Net Primary Productivity (NPP) is a basis of material and energy flows in terrestrial ecosystems, and it is also an important component in the research on carbon cycle and carbon budget. This paper evaluated the spatial distribution pattern and temporal change trends for forest NPP simulated by the LPJ (Lund-Potsdam-Jena) model and NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) in the Yangtze River basin from 1982 to 2013. The results revealed that: (1) the spatial distribution of the forest NPP and NDVI in the Yangtze River basin has gradually decreased from the southeast coast to the northwest. The forest NPP and NDVI in the mid-lower Yangtze were higher than that of the upper Yangtze; (2) the forest NPP and NDVI in most areas of the Yangtze River basin were positively correlated with the temperature and precipitation. Moreover, the correlations among the temperature with the forest NPP and NDVI were stronger than that of correlations among precipitation with forest NPP and NDVI. Moreover, the extreme drought event in the year of 2004–2005 led the NPP to decrease in the middle and lower Yangtze River basin; (3) human activity such as major ecological projects would have a certain impact on the NPP and NDVI. The increase in forest areas from 2000 to 2010 was larger than that from 1990 to 2000. Moreover, the increasing rate for the NDVI was higher than that of NPP, especially after the year 2000, which indicates that the major ecological projects might have great impacts on the vegetation dynamics. Moreover, more attention should be paid on the joint impacts of human activity and climate change on terrestrial NPP and NDVI.