Analysis of Environmental Capabilities for Urban Development (Case Study: Ilam City)

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor of Geography and Urban Planning, University of Ilam, Ilam, Iran


In the present century, we can observe urbanization in most of the countries. There were a balanced and coordinate increase in physical development and population growth in the recent decades. New transformations in the cities resulted in imbalanced and unequal population growth and physical development. Generally, this imbalanced urban development usually occurs in unplanned areas of city. Therefore, the most important issue for the urban development is to allocate suitable places to future expansion. Establishment and development of a city is highly dependent upon its geographical position.  Given the geographical location of the cities, the physical development of the urban areas is faced with a variety of geomorphological factors. The factors can encourage the urban expansion or restrict that. The more the cities are physically expanded, the more they are affected by the topographic circumstances. Therefore, it is essential to understand the characteristics of natural environment to distinguish suitable places for buildings and structures. The spatial growth and development of Ilam City is greatly affected by the effects of 8 years of imposed war and rural-urban migration, particularly in border area. The city after the war due to extensive operations and administrative importance had an exogenous growth. The population growth increased the demand for housing. The limited space in the city resulted in expansion of the houses and buildings on the foothill areas of 15% slope. The natural setting of the city does not support a suitable environment for physical development of urban areas. Therefore, it is necessary to regulate urban development of the city to prevent degradation and destruction of appropriate landuses. One of the solutions to protect the appropriate landuses is optimization site selection for the urban development. 
Materials and methods
This study as an applied research follows descriptive analytical method. The data have been gathered by a library and field method and using the spatial data of the region. The spatial factors including slope, aspect, topography, landuse, geology, and distance to rivers and roads have been prepared from the corresponding spatial data. The weighting model has been used to integrate the information. In the model, the criteria in a hierarchy structure are compared pairwise and received a weight scaled from 1 to 9 based on their preferences. In the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) model, the parameters have been weighted and prioritized based on physical characteristics and properties according to the expert opinions.   
Results and discussion
In this study, we have made an assessment of the effective variables and their influence in optimized areas for urban physical expansion in Ilam. In addition that the influence of each factor has been analyzed, we have given a map showing suitable areas of urban expansion for each factor and a final map resulted from the integration of all the factors. In the integration, the layers with higher preference have also higher priority. The coefficients of the criteria of slope, hypsometry, lithology, landuse, distance to road, geographical direction, and distance to drainage networks are 0.33, 0.22, 0.16, 0.11, 0.08, 0.06, and 0.04, respectively. Therefore, it can be stated by the evidence that topography have outstanding role in site selection and spatial development of the city because it is completely surrounded by the mountains and also established on the slopes more than 15% in highlands. The lithology of the urban area is composed of limestone, marl, shale, alluvial formations mainly at risk of subduction.
Urban spatial development as the physical expansion of the city is considered as one of the requirements of urbanization. The expansion must be so directed that all the fundamentals of the urban development be considered. It is essential to understand the urban development process in urban planning and management of sustainable urban development. Investigation about natural condition of any region can play a vital role in planning and site selection for the suitable areas of urban development. The development regardless of the natural settings of a city can lead to increased urban management costs, problems in urban services, and high risk of some natural hazards.
The Ilam City is located in a plain amid the highlands and limited to the mountains in the margins. The lack of enough suitable land for spatial development made the Ilam faced with geomorphological limitations. The required layers of the natural conditions of the region have been prepared and analyzed in ArcGIS by Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) model. Using the method, the suitability of the lands have been categorized into five classes including very unsuitable (25.3%), unsuitable (31.7%), moderate (18.5%), suitable (14.6%), and very suitable (9.9%). Given the lower percentage of the classes of suitable and very suitable in Ilam City for the spatial expansion, appropriate strategies can be formulated to conduct the expansion of urban residence and activities towards the suitable areas and also prevent the expansion towards the unsuitable areas. By this, the management can conserve the environment of the region and also better use the existing resources.  


Main Subjects

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