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China’s urban green growth from 2000 to 2020 is influenced by legacy effects

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In the face of accelerating urbanization, Urban Green Spaces (UGS) have become vital for sustaining urban ecosystems and the health and well-being of urban residents. This study offers a comprehensive analysis of the growth rate of urban green space (GRUGS) across various regions in China over a two-decade period, highlighting the interplay between urban development, population dynamics, and ecological sustainability. The research meticulously examines the impacts of urban built-up area expansion, population growth, and air pollution on GRUGS. It categorizes 291 Chinese cities into 15 urban agglomerations and utilizes data on urban built-up areas, population, and PM2.5 levels from 2000 to 2020. The findings reveal a mixed picture: while some regions demonstrate a robust commitment to integrating green spaces within urban growth, evident in high GRUGS values, others struggle to preserve green spaces amidst rapid urban expansion and population surges. This study underscores the necessity of tailored urban planning strategies that are region-specific and the ongoing need for innovation in urban development to achieve ecological sustainability. The insights garnered are invaluable for policymakers and urban planners, stressing the indispensable role of green spaces in enhancing urban life quality and securing sustainable urban environments.

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The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


The work was funded by the Hainan Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (822QN314, 819QN236) and the Cultivation Research Foundation of Hainan Medical University (HY2018-15, HYPY201904).

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Conceptualization, H.L.Z., H.X., K.J.L., Y.F.Q., T.T.F., Q.H.S., Q.Z., M.M.N.; methodology, M.M.N., H.L.Z., and Q.H.S.; software, M.M.N., H.L.Z., and Q.H.S.; validation, M.M.N.; formal analysis, M.M.N., H.L.Z., and Q.H.S.; investigation, H.L.Z., H.X., K.J.L., Y.F.Q., Q.Z., T.T.F., Q.H.S., M.M.N.

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Correspondence to Qinghui Sun.

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Zhang, HL., Xiu, H., Nizamani, M. et al. China’s urban green growth from 2000 to 2020 is influenced by legacy effects. Urban Ecosyst (2024).

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