Assessment of the urban sprawl on agriculture lands of two major municipalities in Jordan using supervised classification techniques

  • Salman D. Al-Kofahi
  • Nezar Hammouri
  • Mohammed N. Sawalhah
  • Ahmed A. Al-Hammouri
  • Fakher J. Aukour
Original Paper


The growing populations in urban areas are continuously changing the surrounding natural ecosystems. Jordan is a country with limited resources and witnessing rapid population growth rates and urban advancement towards their agricultural lands. The aim of this research is to investigate the spatial and temporal urban expansion on the agricultural lands of Greater Amman (GAM) and Greater Irbid (GIM) municipalities for the period 2003–2015. Geographic Information System and ENVI-supervised classification technique were used to classify Landsat images of municipalities’ lands into urban, agricultural, and undeveloped lands. In 2015, the urban area of GIM land increased by 70% of that in 2003. The newly urbanized area represented 12% (39km2) of the total GIM land. The GIM land’s conversion rate to urban area was 1% (3.24km2). In 2015, the urban area of GAM land represented 41% of the municipality’s land where 16% (128km2) is the newly urbanized land with an annual land conversion rate of 1.3% (10.7km2). This sprawl was mainly on agricultural lands where 18 and 50% of the 2003 agricultural lands of GIM and GAM, respectively, were eliminated by 2015. The existed agricultural lands in GIM by 2015 represented 38% of the total municipality lands while only 14% of the total GAM land is agricultural land. The annual agricultural land recession rates in GIM and GAM were 1 and 1.1%; therefore, their agricultural lands are expected to be eliminated by 2053 and 2028, respectively. These rates of losing agricultural lands are alarming and need to be regulated through sustainable and recent urban planning approaches.


Agricultural land Remote sensing Undeveloped lands Urban expansion 



The authors thankfully acknowledge the Hashemite University, GIS departments, in Greater Irbid and Greater Amman Municipalities for their support in terms of sharing some of the basic GIS data layer.

Authors’ contributions

Salman Al-Kofahi carried out the research and wrote the manuscript draft. Nezar Hammouri has participated in the preparations of the research illustrations. Mohammed Sawalhah has participated in the satellite images collection. Ahmed Al-Hammouri and Fakher Aukour has contributed in the analysis and reviewing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Salman D. Al-Kofahi
    • 1
  • Nezar Hammouri
    • 2
  • Mohammed N. Sawalhah
    • 3
  • Ahmed A. Al-Hammouri
    • 1
  • Fakher J. Aukour
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Lands Management and Environment, Faculty of Natural Resources and EnvironmentThe Hashemite UniversityZarqaJordan
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Resources and EnvironmentThe Hashemite UniversityZarqaJordan
  3. 3.Department of Natural Resources in Arid lands, Arid Lands Academy, Faculty of Natural Resources and EnvironmentThe Hashemite UniversityZarqaJordan

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