Trends in urban land expansion, density, and land transitions from 1970 to 2010: A global synthesis

TitleTrends in urban land expansion, density, and land transitions from 1970 to 2010: A global synthesis
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsGüneralp B, Reba M, Hales BU, Wentz EA, Seto KC
Secondary TitleEnvironmental Research Letters
PublisherIOP Publishing
Key themesConversion-FoodSecurity, Distribution, Urban

The physical expansion of urban areas lead to lasting impacts on landscapes and livelihoods. Here, we conduct a global synthesis of trends in urban land expansion, in urban population densities, and lands converted into urban from 1970 to 2010. We find that small-medium urban areas lead their larger counterparts in both rates of urban land expansion and decreases in urban population densities. Urban population densities have consistently declined only in India, China, North America, and Europe with significant exceptions across city sizes. Over 60% of the reported urban expansion was formerly agricultural land with China, Southeast Asia, and Europe in the lead. Counterfactual analysis suggests that, due to the decrease in urban population densities, an estimated 125 000 km2 land was converted to urban land uses that could have otherwise remained in cultivation or as natural vegetation. In particular, in India and Nigeria, with much of their populations dependent on agriculture, 85% and 30% more land, respectively, was converted to urban land due to decreasing urban population densities. With increasing urbanization, proactive management of urban land expansion, especially in small and medium cities, will be critical for saving agricultural lands in peri-urban regions while creating equitable and affordable urban landscapes.

URL find that small-medium,significant exceptions across city sizes.

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Journal Article