The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effectiveness of multifunctional cultivated land protection based on the value engineering theory. The study area is the Wuhan Metropolitan Area. Entropy method, comprehensive index method, opportunity cost method and most suitable regional method were employed. The coefficients for importance of functions, for costs, and for values in production, social and ecological of cultivated land were measured. Significant spatial differences in the effectiveness of multifunctional cultivated land protection were found. According to the effectiveness of multifunctional cultivated land protection, the study area can be divided into the following three regions: the “most suitable region”, where the functions of cultivated land and their costs are matched in most parts of the study area; the “optimization region for functional structure”, mostly located in the Jianghan Plain, where the structure of multifunctional cultivated land needs further optimization; and the “improvement region for functional level”, including the mountainous areas, such as Yingshan and Wuxue in the East, and the municipal districts, such as Wuhan and Ezhou, where the potential for improving level of multifunctional cultivated land is relatively large. The article contributes to firstly introducing value engineering theory into the research of cultivated land protection, linking demand to supply of functions of cultivated land. We suggest that different policies might be implemented to optimize the spatial layout of cultivated land protection, and to manifest and coordinate multiple functions of cultivated land. It is vital to improve the use efficiency of funds for multifunctional cultivated land protection, and in the end to realize effective protection of cultivated land in quantity, quality and ecology at a lower cost in a sustainable way.
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