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Scientists Develop a New Tool to Simulate the Process of Urbanization and Eco-environment Coupling
Update time: [July 11, 2019]
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The research on how best to coordinate the relationship between urbanization and eco-environment and promote regional sustainable development is a very important concern in the field. Previous studies mainly focused on empirical observation of the interactions between urbanization and the eco-environment, mainly using econometric models which lacked detailed explanations of the coupling mechanisms between various elements. No quantitative models have been developed to describe the complex nonlinear relationships between various elements.

In order to fully represent the nonlinear interactions between urbanization and eco-environment, researches of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) designed and developed the Urbanization and Eco-environment Coupler (UEC) to simulate urbanization and eco-environment coupling and chose the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei urban agglomeration as a case study research area (Figure 1). The research entitled “Modeling regional sustainable development scenarios using the Urbanization and Eco-environment Coupler: Case study of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration, China”, which was published in the Science of the Total Environment (2019, 689: 820-830), is written by Prof. FANG Chuanglin et al. from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS.

In this paper, on the basis of describing a theoretical graph of urbanization and eco-environment coupling, researchers have creatively designed and developed the UEC including four urbanization submodels (the economy, society, population and construction land) and five eco-environment submodels (water, arable land, ecology, pollution and energy), and used system dynamic as the core to simulate regional urbanization and eco-environment coupling and to compare different sustainable development scenarios.

They obtained the following results: prioritizing urbanization will accelerate economic growth and increase pollution emissions whereas prioritizing the eco-environment will negatively affect both total population and arable land; when sufficient policy and technical support is directed to a particular area, urbanization may not further degrade the eco-environment; and simulation results for various scenarios show that the key to guaranteeing sustainable development is improving technical and political support rather than further restricting urbanization.

Depending on the results of the analysis, researchers do not advocate excessive restrictions on urban population and economic growth in developing country such as China, as adequate technical support and appropriate policy enforcement can largely offset the negative effects of urbanization. They stress the need to balance urbanization and environmental protection.

This research was funded by the Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China: "Coupled mechanism and interactive coercing effects between urbanization and eco-environment in mega-urban agglomerations".

Figure 1 Urbanization and Eco-environment Coupler (UEC) (Image by FANG Chuanglin)



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