Ecological potential evaluation, urban growth optimization, and industrial development using the What if? Multi-criteria decision support system (Case study: Gonbad Kavous Township, Golestan Province, Iran)

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D candidate, College of the Environmental Sciences, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Goorgan, Iran

2 ŮŽAssociate Professor, College of the Environmental Sciences, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Iran

3 Professor, College of the Environmental Sciences, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Gorgan, , Iran

4 Assistant Professor, College of the Humanities, Golestan University, Golestan, Iran


Major urban areas are being largely affected by population growth and immigration which eventually lead to unplanned constructions and unrestrained urban expansion. In the meantime, industrial areas as one of the most important sectors with great impact on the concentration of population and activities, accelerate the growth of cities and create a plethora of changes in the landscape. Ignoring regional planning during the decision-making process usually leads industrial areas to expand inappropriately and impose instability on the environment, interacting with the parent cities. In this study, the What if? decision support tool was used to assess the ecological potential, optimizing urban growth and industrial development in Gonbad Kavus Township, Golestan Province, Iran, simulating the future under different scenarios by 2041. The mapped criteria include land-use, multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) layers, population density, infrastructures, growth patterns as well as ecological and socio-economic driving factors. The results showed that 24107 hectares can best be allocated to urban development and 5362.6 hectares can best be allocated to industrial development. Furthermore, the findings remarked water resources, land use, and morphology as well as natural and anthropogenic hazards are as key driving forces in site-selecting the cities and industries. Most of the land-use changes were seen in the transition from agricultural to built-up and industrial areas. Accordingly, Fajr, Aghabad, and Baghli Marma districts were best found capable in terms of urban and industrial development criteria and infrastructures as well.


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