Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2023, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (7): 1377-1396.doi: 10.1007/s11442-023-2134-6

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Regeneration patterns and drivers of different underutilized lands in the rust belt city of developing country: An empirical case study for Northeast China

LI Wenbo1(), LI Han1, YAN Zhuoran1, HU Bingqing1, ZHU Yuanli2, YANG Yuewen1, WANG Dongyan1   

  1. 1. College of Earth Sciences, Jilin University, Changchun 130061, China
    2. School of Public Policy and Management, China University of Mining and Technology, Xuzhou 221116, Jiangsu, China
  • Received:2022-05-18 Accepted:2023-03-24 Online:2023-07-25 Published:2023-07-24
  • About author:Li Wenbo (1990-), Associate Professor, with a specialty in management and planning of land resources. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42001223)


Rust belt cities are largely threatened by a waste of urban space at their core; however, in developing countries where land resources are widely used as instruments for macroeconomic stabilization, urban periphery is also at risk of being underutilized due to land hoarding. Such geographic differences entail new knowledge about how, where, and why underutilized lands are regenerated in the city. Furthermore, rapid urban growth imposes development disparity and mixed underutilization issues on cities in developing countries; therefore, how the geo-information obtained by the regeneration of different underutilized lands differs will be valuable for urban planners and policymakers to make prudent trade-offs. To fill these gaps, we conducted a sequential investigation into the regeneration of underutilized lands in a representative rust belt city - Changchun City in Northeast China, in an attempt to measure the regeneration pattern and analyze the underlying determinants using the Classification and Regression Trees analysis. The results indicated that, of all underutilized lands, increments of vacant lot and remnant cultivated land continued to plague the expanding urban periphery during 2016-2019. In a way, reduced underutilized lands alleviated land use conflicts at the city core. Nearly 23% of the underutilized areas had been regenerated, dominated by realty development, with most converted to residential lands, ecological lands and industrial lands. On the contrary, conversion to transportation lands and parking lots seemed to avoid the rapidly expanding sites. The regeneration rates in a certain area can be increased by a multitude of factors, including denser, simply structured land underutilization, abundant ecosystem services nearby and accessibility to public infrastructures. Site conditions such as residential density and accessibility may have fueled the regeneration associated with residential purposes, while regeneration of industrial development was closely associated with the underutilization density and parcel regularity. This research provides an empirical paradigm for delivering regeneration geo-information across different underutilized lands, particularly for rust belt cities that are caught between a shrinking core and speculative periphery.

Key words: land underutilization, spatial-statistical analysis, driving mechanism, developing country, rust belt of Northeast China