Urban ecology in China: Historical developments and future directions

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May 01, 2014
Jianguo Wu, Wei-Ning Xiang, Jingzhu Zhao


China has the largest population and the longest urban development history in the world, with primitive cities first occurring along the Yellow River in northern China more than 4000 years ago. After a long period of stagnation during recent centuries, urbanization has revived again in China since the economic reform in 1978. Strongly influenced by national land use policy and the history of urbanization after 1949, China's urban ecology has gone through three development periods: the emergent period (1983–1989), the early growth period (1990–1999), and the rapid development period (2000–present). In this paper, we first provide a historical review of urbanization and urban ecology in China; based on this retrospective analysis, we further identify the main characteristics of, and missing links in, China's urban ecological research; and finally we suggest future research directions. The amount and scope of research in urban ecology and environment conducted in China since the 1980s are impressive. Not only did Chinese scholars import Western ideas to develop urban ecological science, but also they have promoted a holistic, use-inspired, transdisciplinary philosophy for studying and managing urban systems – which has unique Chinese characteristics. After more than 5000 years of being predominantly agrarian, China is now urban, and will become only more urban in the future. This continued fast urbanization makes China a living laboratory for studying urbanization, and China's urban ecology seems poised to make strides in the coming decades.

This resource can be accessed at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.02.010

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