Land intensification use scenarios based on urban land suitability assessment of the national park

Tianyun Qi, Yu Li, Mei Huang, Binyu Luo, Zhen Peng, Wenyin Wang, Shanshan Li, A. Allan Degen, Zhanhuan Shang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In designing national parks, it is important to balance land use with ecological protection and local socio-economic development. In the past decades, the national park has undergone landscape fragmentation and degradation of ecological functions due to climate change and land use change, especially in national parks with urban areas. Therefore, ecological environmental protection projects should include the assessment of land use when planning urban area development in the national park region. Consequently, we used the Land Suitability Evaluation (LSE) method, with 13 indicators for natural, social and ecological variables, to assess the suitability of the newly created national park for urban land use on the Tibetan Plateau. Combining results of the suitability assessment and the Cellular Automata (CA) method, three urban intensification scenarios were simulated for 2040: (1) unplanned, (2) intensified, and (3) strictly regulated urban growth boundaries (UGBs). The impact of land use on the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was analyzed by remote sensing and GIS tools, and the landscape patterns of the three urban growth scenarios were calculated. Close to 87 % of the area was basically suitable, nearly 13 % was unsuitable, and only 0.06 % (43.4 km2–also included in the basically suitable) was suitable for urban land use. In 2040, the built-up areas are predicted to be 3.38, 2.71 and 2.32 times greater than in 2020 under the unplanned (without considering ecological restrictions), the intensive development (emphasizing the driving force of transportation and tourism on the expansion of built-up areas) and the strict control (maximizing ecological restrictions) scenarios, respectively. An ideal development model was used to balance ecological protection and population growth and economic development. The NDVI analysis revealed that the impact of land use on vegetation cover in the intensive development scenario was ranked as winter pastures > tourist development zones > summer pastures. It is concluded that the intensification scenario, with transport and tourism as the main spatial drivers, is the most desirable for the future coordination of ecological conservation and socio-economic development in the national park. This scenario may alleviate the current environmental pressure of livestock grazing on winter pastures in the national park on the Tibetan Plateau. However, realizing this model requires appropriate engineering design for town development. Future research should assess the impacts of urban growth on the ecological environment, with the aim to achieve sustainable urban development tailored to the various geographic regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105229
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024


  • Cellular automata model
  • Land suitability assessment
  • Landscape pattern
  • National park
  • Tibetan Plateau
  • Urban growth boundary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Transportation


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