Chinese Geographical Science

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 600–611 | Cite as

Simulating Sustainable Urban Development by Incorporating Social-ecological Risks into a Constrained CA Model

  • Jiang Zhu
  • Yanna Yu
  • Shenglu ZhouEmail author
  • Xiang Wang
  • Ligang Lv


A key solution to urban and global sustainability is effective planning of sustainable urban development, for which geo-techniques especially cellular automata (CA) models can be very informative. However, existing CA models for simulating sustainable urban development, though increasingly refined in modeling urban growth, capture mostly the environmental aspect of sustainability. In this study, an adaptable risk-constrained CA model was developed by incorporating the social-ecological risks of urban development. A three-dimensional risk assessment framework was proposed that explicitly considers the environmental constraints on, system resilience to, and potential impacts of urban development. The risk-constrained model was then applied to a case study of Sheyang County, Jiangsu Province in the eastern China. Comparative simulations of urban development in four contrasting scenarios were conducted, namely, the environmental suitability constrained scenario, the ecological risk constrained scenario, the social risk constrained scenario, and the integrated social-ecological risk constrained scenario. The simulations suggested that considering only environmental suitability in the CA simulation of urban development overestimated the potential of sustainable urban growth, and that the urbanization mode changed from city expansion that was more constrained by social risks to town growth that was more constrained by ecological risks. Our risk-constrained CA model can better simulate sustainable urban development; additionally, we provide suggestions on the sustainable urban development in Sheyang and on future model development.


risk assessment vulnerability framework social-ecological systems perspective urban planning Sheyang County 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agricultural Ecology, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiang Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yanna Yu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shenglu Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xiang Wang
    • 3
  • Ligang Lv
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Geographic and Oceanographic SciencesNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of the Coastal Zone Exploitation and ProtectionMinistry of Land and ResourcesNanjingChina
  3. 3.College of Land ManagementNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina
  4. 4.School of Public AdministrationNanjing University of Finance & EconomicsNanjingChina

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