• Journal of Geographical Sciences
  • Vol. 30, Issue 4, 04000669 (2020)
SONG Xiaoqing1、2、*, WEN Mengmeng1, SHEN Yajing1, FENG Qi1, XIANG Jingwei3, ZHANG Weina2, ZHAO Guosong1, and WU Zhifeng4
Author Affiliations
  • 1Research Center for Spatial Planning and Human-Environment System Simulation, School of Geography and Information Engineering, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
  • 2Hunan Key Laboratory of Land Resources Evaluation and Utilization, Hunan Planning Institute of Land and Resources, Changsha 410007, China
  • 3School of Public Administration, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
  • 4School of Geographical Sciences, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
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    Urban growth and shrinkage constitute the overall pattern of growing urbanization across the globe. Studies on urban vacant land (UVL) are few, and have proved to be mainly rudimentary and subjective. This paper first presents the definition of UVL based on bibliometric analysis. Typology, morphology, proximate causes, and the multiple functions of UVL are then analyzed at parcel, transect, city, and national levels based on an international review. Results show that UVL can be categorized by land cover, land usage, and land ownership. Worldwide, UVL has been widespread and extensive. For example, the occurrence probabilities of UVL in the cases of Guangzhou and New York are 8.46%-8.88% and 3.17%-5.08%, respectively. The average vacancy rate of residential land amounts to 11.48% in 65 U.S. cities. Generally, UVL shows fragmentation and irregular shape, and significant spatial differences exist at parcel, transect, city, and national levels. Proximate causes, such as excessive land division, irregularly shaped land parcels, decreases in resident population, deindustrialization, land speculation, insufficient investment, and environmental concerns, can all result in UVL. Currently, UVL has become a gray area of social, economic, and ecological space. However, it can also be considered a potential resource for enhancing urban sustainability. Policy implications to promote urban sustainability using monitoring, control, and differential revitalization of UVL are presented.

    1 Introduction

    The global urbanization boom began with industrialization from the 1870s to the 1950s. In the 1960s, with the rapid development of metropolises in developed regions, such as Western Europe and North America, urbanization began to spread, promoting a second global urbanization boom. According to statistical data from the World Bank, the global urban population increased from 1.02 billion to 4.20 billion between 1960 and 2018, with a corresponding increase in demographic urbanization levels from 33.61% to 55.27% (IBRD-IDA, 2019). Meanwhile, global urban land sprawled rapidly. For example, it increased by 5.80×104 km2 between 1970 and 2000. In 2010, urban land area accounted for about 3% of global land area, excluding Antarctica and Greenland (Liu et al., 2014). According to projections, the world’s urban population is expected to reach 6.3 billion in 2050 (UN, 2014; 2019), and urban land area may increase to 318.20×104 km2 by 2050 (Angel et al., 2010). One might conclude that urban growth will typify urbanization during the 21st century (Jiang and Neil, 2017).