Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2016, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (2): 188-202.doi: 10.1007/s11442-016-1262-7

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Construction area expansion in relation to economic-demographic development and land resource in the Pearl River Delta of China

Zhijia LIU1,2(), Heqing *HUANG1(), E. WERNERS Saskia3, Dan YAN3   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Earth Systems Science - Climate Change Group, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • Received:2015-04-03 Accepted:2015-08-27 Online:2016-02-25 Published:2016-02-25
  • About author:

    Author: Liu Zhijia (1986-), PhD Candidate, specialized in simulation of land use and cover change (LUCC). E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Huang Heqing (1962-), PhD and Professor, E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    China-Netherlands Joint Research Project of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.GJHZ1019;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41330751


Since 1979, the Pearl River Delta (PRD) of China has experienced rapid socio- economic development along with a fast expansion of construction area. Affected by both natural and human factors, a complex interdependency is found among the regional changes in construction area, GDP and population. A quantitative analysis of the four phases of the regional land use data extracted from remote sensing images and socioeconomic statistics spanning 1979 to 2009 demonstrates that the proportion of construction area in the PRD increased from 0.5% in 1979 to 10.8% in 2009, accompanied with a rapid loss of agricultural land. An increase of one million residents was associated with an increase of GDP of approximately 32 billion yuan before 2000 and approximately 162 billion yuan after 2000. Because the expansion of construction area has approached the limits of land resource in some cities of the PRD, a power function is found more suitable than a linear one in describing the relationship between GDP and construction area. Consequently, the Logistic model is shown to provide more accurate predictions of population growth than the Malthus model, particularly in some cities where a very large proportion of land resource has been urbanized, such as Shenzhen and Dongguan.

Key words: construction area expansion, GDP growth, population growth, land resource, Pearl River Delta