Assessing urban environmental resources and services of Shenzhen, China: A landscape-based approach for urban planning and sustainability

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May 01, 2014
Peijun Shi, Deyong Yu


More than half of the planet's residents now live in urban areas. In the foreseeable future, global urbanization will continue. China is one of the most rapidly urbanizing countries in the world, and during the past three decades its urban expansion has encroached on productive lands and caused myriad environmental problems. To achieve urban sustainability, Chinese cities need to be better designed, planned, and managed in a more ecological and sustainable way. In this study, we focused on Shenzhen City in southern China, which has experienced extremely rapid urbanization and socioeconomic transformations since China's economic reform and open-door policy enacted in 1978. We have proposed a methodology for environmental resource accounting, which consists of ecosystem services, atmospheric environment capacity, water environment resource, and land value. Our methodology recognizes the strategic significance for conserving biodiversity and maintaining high environmental quality. In particular, protecting the remaining natural and semi-natural areas in and around the city – ecological core areas – is of paramount importance. In addition to valuating urban environmental resources and services, we have also proposed an ecological network-based urban landscape design in order to improve urban sustainability for the city. Our proposed urban design plan has been taken seriously by the city government. Overall, this study provides a quantitative approach for research and practice in urban sustainability, and should be of value to other rapidly urbanizing regions around the world.

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