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Accelerating Cities in an Unsustainable Landscape: Urban Expansion and Cropland Occupation in China, 1990–2030

Laboratory of Geospatial Technology for the Middle and Lower Yellow River Regions, College of Environment and Planning, Henan University, Jinming District, Kaifeng 475004, China
Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, Center for Spatial Analysis, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Datun Road 11A, Beijing 100101, China
College of Plant Science, Jilin University, Xian Road No.5333, Changchun 130062, China
College of Environmental and Resource Sciences, Zhejiang University, Yuhangtang Road No.866, Hangzhou 310058, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2283;
Received: 3 March 2019 / Revised: 23 March 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 16 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Cities: Urban Planning, Infrastructure and Sustainability)
PDF [4022 KB, uploaded 16 April 2019]


It is crucial to assess the effects of urban expansion on croplands to allow sustainable urbanization and cropland supply. However, owing to the complexity of land conversion and various land policies in China, it is difficult to quantify the cropland dynamics and implications of urban expansion throughout the whole accelerated stage of urbanization. This study was based on land use data from 1990 to 2015 and urban expansion data from 2000 to 2030, analyzing urban expansion and predicting its impact on croplands. We found that urban area would continue to increase and croplands would contribute more than 70% of the urban expansion area. The urban area in China will likely reach 71.6–87.0 thousand km2 or more by 2030. Although the overall area of croplands may remain at a similar magnitude in future decades, our findings imply that croplands will tend to shift northward, resulting in some potential challenges owing to resource limitations in northern regions. Our study provides a new perspective in terms of assessing future cropland dynamics and the effects of urban expansion and highlights the significance of ensuring a realistic land policy in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: food systems; urbanization; land use; cropland supply; land policy food systems; urbanization; land use; cropland supply; land policy

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Cui, Y.; Liu, J.; Xu, X.; Dong, J.; Li, N.; Fu, Y.; Lu, S.; Xia, H.; Si, B.; Xiao, X. Accelerating Cities in an Unsustainable Landscape: Urban Expansion and Cropland Occupation in China, 1990–2030. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2283.

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