Urban-Rural Assembly (URA)

Managing inclusive transformation-to-sustainability processes at the urban-rural interface of the Huangyan-Taizhou region in China through the development of new strategic governance tools and the implementation of exemplary pilot projects as catalysts for regional value chains

Research Issue

Most urban-oriented research and policy design in China is devoted to new mega cities and vast urban concentrations. But urbanisation processes across the country are much more complex and ambiguous, affecting both urban centres and the former rural countryside.


The project aims to build a better understanding of the urban-rural constellation and interdependencies that are emerging along China's vast urbanisation corridors, and which can no longer be described through traditional binaries of 'urban' and 'rural'. The region Huangyan-Taizhou, part of the Chinese 'prefectural-level city' Taizhou, will be examined as an exemplary case study and learning context: a rapidly urbanising region where diverse and seemingly contradictory transformation processes take place simultaneously. Goal is to develop new stakeholder oriented planning-governance instruments. IOER part focuses on the ecosystem services dynamics in the urban rural gradient.


With GIS technology we will create landscape and ecosystem services indicators along the urban-rural gradient indicating the ecosystem services dynamics affected by urbanization.


Maps of land cover and assessments of ecosystem services (ESS) were created using a GIS tool. They show the considerable urbanisation dynamics in the case study region. Overall, the urbanised area of Taizhou has grown by 962.32 km² (271.28 %) since 1995, tripling in the space of 25 years. Given the relatively limited time span of 25 years, this surge in urbanisation can be described as dramatic. Overall, the area of grassland in Taizhou has decreased by 45.21 %. At 99.92 %, the area of wetlands has experienced the greatest decline, which already indicates a considerable impact on the ESS associated with these land use types.

The project went on to analyse the land use and vegetation structure on a smaller scale in the local urban living lab Beiyang Town in Taizhou and in the urban living lab Nordhausen as a comparative region in Germany. In addition, a comprehensive assessment of selected ecosystem services (ES) was carried out for the two real-world laboratories using the assessment approach already applied at regional level. Finally, urban land growth was also analysed at this smaller scale in order to identify factors influencing the loss of ecosystem services. The results of the analyses served as a basis for the development of a 'Raumbild (spatial vision) of Nordhausen' and a 'Raumbild of Beiyang Town'. The available time series data and evaluations also made it possible to show the dynamics of the changes in ESS in the period from 1992 to 2020, which made the considerable urban push clear even at this more local level. A fundamental decrease in the qualities and quantities of ESS in the Chinese urban living lab over the period from 1992 to 2020 was revealed. Recommendations for a spatial image of Beiyang Town were derived from the results. The focus here is on the protection, maintenance and development of ecosystems. Ideas for reconnecting habitats for biodiversity through stepping stone biotopes, green bridges and new habitat elements along river courses were proposed and discussed with regional policy representatives in Huangyan in the summer of 2023. Options for integrating these newly created or restored habitats into Chinese territorial planning were also developed. The ideas were published open access in a policy brief, which was also co-authored by Chinese regional government representatives (https://zenodo.org/records/11093845). The ideas were published open access in a policy brief, which was also co-authored by Chinese regional government representatives (https://zenodo.org/records/11093845). In addition, two Technical Instructions (open access) are available that outline the procedure for a GIS-based potential flood hazard assessment (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.11108862) and for a GIS-based ecosystem service supply assessment (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.11103491).

Additionally, comprehensive surveys (49 participants online and 99 participants on site) were used to identify demand for ESS from the local and regional population. For example, the focus was on the question of which ESS are categorised as particularly important (demand side). It was found that cultural ecosystem services that are used for recreational purposes are considered particularly important by local and regional respondents.


The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.