An urban hierarchy-based approach integrating ecosystem services into multiscale sustainable land use planning: The case of China

Xiao Sun, Jianguo Wu, Huajun Tang, Peng Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Understanding how to manage ecosystem services (ESs) is crucial for sustainable regional development. The multiscale ES assessment can provide a new perspective for land use planning. We assessed the spatiotemporal patterns of multiple ESs in the three largest urban agglomerations of China at different levels: Beijing−Tianjin−Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Pearl River Delta from 1980 to 2018. The urban hierarchy extends from the city proper to metropolitan regions and then urban agglomeration levels. Associating with the trade-off relationships and influencing factors of ESs, a new methodological framework was proposed to enhance the ESs by developing improved land use scenarios at different urban hierarchical levels. The major results showed that: (1) the spatiotemporal patterns of ESs varied at different levels and not all ESs increased with increasing spatial scales; (2) the ES relationships at small scales did not apply to the broader scales and even led to diametrically opposing outcomes; (3) socioeconomic factors were the main drivers at the low level, whereas natural factors became the main drivers at the high level; and (4) more sustainable policy-combination scenarios were also place-based and scale-dependent, for example, strengthening intensive utilization of developed lands at the city proper level, implementing agroforestry intercropping at the metropolitan level, and facilitating forest conservation practices at the urban agglomeration level. It indicated that a multiscale approach should be considered when managing ESs. The scale-explicit land use strategies can help decision makers and planners to enhance the ESs and landscape sustainability more effectively and avoid misleading guidance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106097
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Ecosystem services
  • Influencing factors
  • Multiscale
  • Sustainable land use scenarios
  • Trade-offs
  • Urban agglomerations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics


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