December 12 2013

Guangdong Province Sets up Ecological Control Boundary to Tackle Sprawl

On November 27, 2013 the Guangdong Provincial Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development held a training workshop on “Greenway Construction Management and Ecological Control Line Delineation.” The workshop aimed to instruct cities in the Guangdong Province on how to set up the ecological control boundary by the end of 2014, which is expected to serve similar functions as the urban growth boundary.

Guangdong Ecological Planning

On October 10th 2013, the Guangdong Provincial People’s Government declared that the development of the ecological control boundary was entering into its implementation stage and all the cities were expected to finish setting up their boundaries by the end of 2014. The Guangdong Provincial Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development was assigned as the leading agency in implementing this policy. One or two cities in each region of the province would be selected as the pilot cities to showcase the implementation of the ecological control boundary. The legislation of this policy is expected to come out in 2014.

By the end of 2012, Guangdong Province had reached 106 million in population and an urbanization rate of 67.4 percent, which is the highest in China. However, during the rapid urbanization process, unsustainable economic growth patterns and urban sprawl have put severe pressure on natural resources and the region’s environmental carrying capacity. Since 2004, Guangdong Province has added 150 square kilometers of land for urban development each year. From 2004 to 2011, 1,200 square kilometers of natural habitat was developed for urban land use. However, a large portion of the land has low productivity, which has resulted in a waste of resources and ecological damage.

The ecological control boundary will serve the following functions:

  • Maintaining ecological integrity, continuity and species diversity, and ecological security;
  • Optimizing land use structures, promoting urban land resource integration and conservation; and
  • Promoting the development of a natural park system, wetlands, ecological corridors, urban green space, and a waterfront green space network.


The implementation of the ecological control boundary requires the planning, design and construction process to follow environmental and ecological principles, which include controlling the intensity of development, adopting low environmental impact planning and construction techniques, and strengthening natural habitat development projects.

The Guangdong Provincial Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development recommends that all levels of government establish and improve the ecological control boundary integrated regulatory system, while ecological control line management will be included in the local government’s performance appraisal. The Provincial Housing Department will also establish periodic monitoring and an evaluation system using a spatial information system and dynamic spatial database management. Ecological control boundary law enforcement authorities will use modern technology such as remote sensing technology to monitor illegal construction within the boundary.

Do you think the “ecological control boundary” will be as effective in China as the urban growth boundary in Portland, Oregon? What challenges do you think Guangdong Province will face during the implementation of this policy? 

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

The original article, published in Chinese, can be found here.

Jue Wang

Jue Wang is a Master of Urban Planning student at the University of Southern California (USC) with a concentration in sustainable land use planning. Born in a small town along the Yellow River and having grown up in the Pearl River Delta in southeastern China, she experienced the rapid transformation of rural and urban China in the past two decades. Inspired by the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, she decided to translate her passions towards the betterment of the natural and built environment to a career in urban planning. Being an Angeleno for five years, she has claimed Los Angeles as her second home. Through her work as a translator and content coordinator, Jue hopes to help more people learn about China's planning and environmental design issues.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 12th, 2013 at 9:04 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment, Land Use. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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