The disorderly expansion of urban built-up land is a global issue. It is of great significance to guide urban land use scientifically through the analysis of geographical features to identify the mechanisms that underlie differences in urban built-up land expansion. We selected Changsha and Zhengzhou in China, whose built-up areas during the initial period of study had different natural geographical features, but similar human geographical features, and systematically explored the development and evolution characteristics of the natural and human geographical features from 1990 to 2010 using a landscape metrics analysis and an urban built-up land intensive use analysis. We found that (1) although human beings have a strong ability to transform nature, they have to rely on the natural endowment of the land to develop the cities and, thus, have formed different landscape patterns and levels of urban built-up land intensive use; (2) in places where the natural geographical features are more restrictive, land-use policy-makers are more cautious in their decision-making, which more closely links the land-use policies and human geographical features, thereby simultaneously increasing the degree of intensive built-up land use and reducing the number of problems that arise from urban built-up land expansion. This research can provide a reference for the development of policies for urban built-up land use in Changsha and Zhengzhou. It also can provide ideas for how to implement different built-up land management policies for other cities with different natural and human geographical features.
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