, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 532–543 | Cite as

Balancing urban growth and ecological conservation: A challenge for planning and governance in China

  • Burak GüneralpEmail author
  • Andrew S. Perlstein
  • Karen C. Seto


China has high biodiversity and is rapidly urbanizing. However, there is limited understanding of how urban expansion in the country is likely to affect its habitats and biodiversity. In this study, we examine urban expansion patterns and their likely impacts on biodiversity in China by 2030. Our analysis shows that most provinces are expected to experience urban expansion either near their protected areas or in biodiversity hotspots. In a few provinces such as Guangdong in the south, urban expansion is likely to impinge on both protected areas and biodiversity hotspots. We show that policies that could facilitate the integration of natural resource protection into urban planning exist on paper, but the prevailing incentives and institutional arrangements between the central and local governments prevent this kind of integration. Removing these obstacles will be necessary in order to safeguard the country’s rich biodiversity in light of the scale of urbanization underway.


Biodiversity Nature reserve Urbanization Urban planning Economic development Land-use planning institutions and governance 


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Burak Güneralp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew S. Perlstein
    • 2
  • Karen C. Seto
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeographyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Center for Leadership in Global SustainabilityVirginia TechArlingtonUSA
  3. 3.Yale School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesNew HavenUSA

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