Urban land teleconnections in China and India
Urban land teleconnections have been proposed as a new conceptual framework to examine land change by explicitly linking land changes to underlying urbanization dynamics. The concept of urban land teleconnections breaks away from a placed-based conceptualization of urban sustainability and land, and instead emphasizes a process-based conceptualization along a continuum of land systems. In this paper, we apply the urban land teleconnections framework to examine the links between urbanization and agricultural land in China and India. Specifically, we ask the following questions: How do the results of an analysis where the spatial treatment of urbanization and land change are based on place-based relationships differ from one based on urban land teleconnections, where the distant connection between places, especially between urban functions and rural land uses, are explicit and examined jointly? What insights can we gain from using an urban land teleconnections framework? We conduct a conventional analysis using satellite imagery where “urban” and “agriculture” are based on place-based relationships and examine the relationship between urban expansion and agricultural land loss. We compare these results to an urban land teleconnections approach where the links between agricultural land and urban processes are explicit.
Our analysis shows that the urban land teleconnections framework helps us understand the linkages among land uses over large geographical distances that are driven by urban processes. Rather than simply identifying the direct impacts of urban expansion on the loss of agricultural land at the same location, the urban land teleconnections framework identifies the specific spatial and temporal pathways through which urbanization drives agricultural land change in distant, non-co-located areas. These pathways include flows of capital, demand, and people that connect distant places. We conclude that the urban land teleconnections framework helps to identify points of intervention in the land and urban systems and reveal linkages that are no readily evident using a more conventional analytical approach.