GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (7): 1791-1806.doi: 10.11821/dlyj020180074

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Agricultural multifunctionality and land use management in metropolitan areas: A framework and a case study

Jiao HUANG1,2(), Bingying MA3, Shuangcheng LI1,2()   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2. Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    3. School of Urban Planning and Design, Shenzhen Graduate School, Peking University, Shenzhen 518055, Guangdong, China
  • Received:2018-01-16 Revised:2019-04-25 Online:2019-07-20 Published:2019-07-12


The contradiction between agricultural land conservation and urban development is one of the most important problems in metropolitan areas. The purpose of this study is to explore the value and ways of considering agricultural multifunctionality (MFA) to improve land use management in metropolitan areas of China. This paper begins with a brief introduction to the nested multi-scale hierarchies of MFA and a theoretical analysis of the relationship between MFA and land use management. Then, it provides a framework integrating the assessment of MFA for land use management in metropolitan areas. After that, a case study is conducted in Haidian District of Beijing in order to test and further develop the framework. The case study includes an analysis of the land use changes in Haidian from 1968 to 2014 based upon the interpretation of high resolution remote sensing images, and an analysis on the interaction between the transformation of MFA and land use policies in Haidian in the same period. We find that the concept of agricultural multifunctionality should not be equated with land use or landscape multifunctionality. Agricultural functions are the benefits from agricultural activities, which directly influence on stakeholders’ decision-making; while land use functions refer to the outputs from the land, which can develop into different agricultural functions. The assessment of agricultural multifunctionality can provide scientific basis for the management of agricultural lands. The nested multi-scale hierarchies of MFA also provide ways to coordinate the interests of the stakeholders at different scales. The framework integrating MFA is built on the basis of the actual land use management system in China, in which, the managers at the regional level play a dominant role in the formation of land use pattern in metropolitan areas. The regional land use managers mainly rely on two types of instruments, namely, land use zoning and agricultural policies. The framework integrating MFA requires, firstly, the assessment of MFA at the farm and regional scale; secondly, to implement land use zoning based upon MFA and policies that focus on promoting multifunctional farming, such as taxes, compensation, training and others. Attentions should be paid to the creation of mechanisms that convert the interests at the regional and national scales to the motivation of farmers. The case study in Haidian suggests that the framework is feasible and valuable for the improvement of land use management in metropolitan areas. Finally, future research is needed in the following aspects, namely the quantitative assessment and mapping of MFA, analysis on the influence of geographical conditions or urbanization level on the supply and demand of agricultural functions in metropolitan areas, and land use optimization incorporating the multiple roles of agricultural lands. Land use management based upon MFA is meaningful in terms of the conservation of land resources, the development of urban agriculture and the maintaining of regional sustainability in metropolitan areas.

Key words: land management, agricultural multifunctionality, framework, multi-scale, metropolitan area, Haidian District, Beijing