Land Suitability Analysis

 Rapid urbanization and consequent haphazard growth of cities result in deterioration of infrastructure facilities, loss of agricultural land, water bodies, open spaces, and many micro-climatic changes. This unprecedented growth in city population put pressure on urban amenities and led to their uneven distribution. Many cities witnessed alarming population growth rates in the last thirty years, thus resulted in various problems like pollution, traffic jam, leap-frog development, uneven provision of urban amenities etc. The present study attempted to find out the urban land suitability for the provision of urban amenities. Land use suitability assessment is a key determinant in any urban and suburban planning and decision-making process. The suitability assessment is carried out through Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) model using a set of criteria involving geo-physical and socioeconomic variables. The variables taken for the study are slope, altitude, land use/land cover and existing amenity status. 

Suitability analysis is the process and procedures used to establish the suitability of a system according to the needs of a stakeholder. Urban development and migration to urban areas are global phenomena’s especially in third world countries. Thus, many small cities and isolated populations are rapidly changing into large metropolitan cities.This rapid increase of urban population causes high level impact on the urban environment and creates many problems such as unplanned sprawl, inadequate housing facilities, traffic congestion, insufficient drainage, sewerage problem and lack of other amenities. In this context, finding suitable area for further development or evaluation of land suitability for urban land use planning to overcome undesirable urban growth and protect environment around cities becomes all the more important. In most of the third world countries people are constructing residential buildings without considering resources for these new residential areas. Therefore, it becomes the government’s problem to provide required resources for these areas. In order to find suitable site for construction of an amenity, it is required to use sophisticated analysis with consideration of large numbers of critical issues such as technical, environmental, physical, social and many others. Site suitability analysis is the process of determining the fitness of a given tract of land for a defined use. Remote Sensing, GIS, GPS and AHP method is a vital tool for identification, comparison and multi-criterion decision making analysis of urban development site’s proper planning and management. 

Since site selection and suitability process are related to geospatial issues, geographical information system (GIS) allows using data related parameters for suitability modelling. One of the advantages of using GIS in site suitability analysis is the capability of GIS in development of alternative scenarios for urban development. Suitability analysis in a GIS context is a geographic or GIS-based process used to determine the appropriateness of a given area for a particular use. The basic premise of GIS suitability analysis is that each aspect of the landscape has intrinsic characteristics that are to some degree either suitable or unsuitable for the activities being planned. Suitability is determined through systematic, multi-factor analysis of the different aspects of the problem. Model inputs include a variety of physical, cultural, and economic factors. The results are often displayed on a map that is used to highlight areas from high to low suitability. A GIS suitability model typically answers the question, ‘where is the best location? Land suitability analysis is used for site selection, impact studies and land use planning. Land use planning plays an important role in site development, urban renewal and achievement of sustainable urban development. Suitability analysis is critical for both marketing and merchandising purposes. The GIS has different applications in urban health studies and can also be used as a decision support tool to allocate health services so that they are geographically accessible for the population that they intend to serve. 

The overcrowding of the capital has resulted in many people being confined to small areas, making planning of the area difficult. Most cities in Mongolia are not planned according to landuse and it is possible to find all kinds of land-uses within a small area. It is therefore necessary to classify land-use types within the cities, thus identifying the needed spaces for urban development using land suitability analysis. Additionally, land suitability analysis is valuable not only for urban planning but in all land management problems.

In addition, GIS (Geographical Information System) is a useful tool for land-use suitability mapping and analysis for urban, agriculture, mining and all land-use projects. Hopkins and Collins et al.  defined land-use suitability analysis as identifying the most suitable spatial pattern for future land uses according to specific requirements, preferences, or predictors of some activity. GIS has been used to analyse land-use suitability in many situations for ecological approaches for animal habitat and plant species used GIS to analyse geographical favourability, Cambell et al.1 and Kalogirou  also employed GIS in landscape evaluation and planning. GIS can also be used in private and public property planning. For example, Eastman et al. (1993) and Church (2002) used GIS to select the best sites for public and private sector facilities, whilst Janssen and Rietvelt used the same GIS for regional planning. This makes GIS a very important tool for all planning activities. Land-use suitability may mean different things to different experts based on the intended purpose for which the land is desired. For the agriculturist, it would mean the suitability of the land for cultivation of crops, animal husbandry and pasture, and to the urban planner the suitability of the land for building houses, landfill sites, etc. No matter what the intended purpose or which expert is involved, the rule of thumb, according to Cova and Church, is to differentiate between the site selection problem and site search problem. Site selection analysis will best identify a specific site for a suitable activity based on its known potentials such as location, size, and other attributes. Different sites are ranked based on their potentials and the best site is chosen. 

The purpose of this study focused on mapping urban and agriculture land suitability so as to use prior information regarding the present state of different units of the land which will be highly important when applying site specific management interventions. This is done by linking data on socio-economic organizational factors and geophysical conditions of the land for decision making in identifying land management using geospatial techniques. This requires application of geospatial technologies through the Geographic Information System (GIS) which will provide the capability to analyse and interpret land suitability modeling on various scales, time and cost effectively. In land suitability modeling all the factors of environmental conditions will be weighted based on their level of influence using multicriteria evaluation to produce a land suitability map. Mapping urban and agricultural land is thus vital to locate and rank which areas are highly suitable and less suitable, so that coherent managing measures could be suggested and implemented immediately to plan, protect and use the valuable land planning in a sustainable manner.

Moreover, land suitability mapping using GIS provides a classification of the urban and agricultural area into zones each of which has a different likelihood, or risk, of experiencing specific land using processes. Such maps are fundamental to land-use planning aimed at the urban and agricultural land. The procedure is based on the processing of directly mapped and interpreted data, is easy to apply, and allows frequent updating of the land-use planning.

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