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The Relationship between Urban Sprawl and Farmland Displacement in the Pearl River Delta, China

State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resources Ecology, Beijing Normal University, No. 19 Xinjiekouwaidajie Street, Beijing 100875, China
Geography Research Group, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200E, Heverlee 3001, Belgium
Department of Geography, Shanghai Normal University, Guilin Road 100, Shanghai 200234, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2014, 3(1), 34-51;
Received: 21 October 2013 / Revised: 5 December 2013 / Accepted: 20 December 2013 / Published: 27 December 2013
PDF [3675 KB, uploaded 27 December 2013]


China is rapidly urbanizing and will inevitably face trade-offs between promoting economic growth through further urbanization and protecting fertile farmland against accelerated urban expansion. This paper presents how this dilemma is being addressed in one of the most rapidly urbanizing regions in China, the Pearl River Delta (PRD), by means of assessing urban growth and farmland dynamic, as well as their complex relationships. Land use maps derived from Landsat imagery for 1990, 2000 and 2010 show a process of accelerated urban sprawl whereby built-up lands have more than quadrupled and scattered centers have merged into megacities. Nonetheless, the land use efficiency is considerably low and is declining relative to Hong Kong and Macau with respect to urban population density. On the other hand, the spreading of urban areas on farmlands causes new farmland reclamation and accelerated deforestation in the hilly surroundings. In addition, the displaced farmlands do not ensure food production because of both reclaiming farmlands on infertile lands and diversifying farming activities from grain production to market-oriented ones. The accelerated urbanization and farmland displacement are driven by profit-oriented development strategy and ineffective land use planning. Our findings demonstrate how spatial analysis can help to investigate the integrated effects of land policies on landscape. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban sprawl; landscape index; farmland protection; spatial analysis urban sprawl; landscape index; farmland protection; spatial analysis

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Du, S.; Shi, P.; Van Rompaey, A. The Relationship between Urban Sprawl and Farmland Displacement in the Pearl River Delta, China. Land 2014, 3, 34-51.

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