Simulating Urban Growth via LTM and Modeling Ecological Capacity to Measure Land Suitability for Urban Development Using WLC in 2046 (Case study: Isfahan)

Document Type : Extracted from the dissertation


Department of Geography and Urban Planning, Faculty of Geographical Sciences and Planning, Isfahan University, Isfahan, Iran




A precise understanding of urban expansion patterns using urban growth models contributes to efficient urban management and planning. The present study aims to model the optimal urban growth of Isfahan by presenting the optimal scenario of its physical-spatial development. The study area covers Isfahan city with an area of 55218 hectares. The “applied” study employed a combined data collection method via "historical, case study, survey research, post-hoc, and action research" methods. Using the classification of Landsat TM satellite imagery related to the years 1986, 1998, and 2016, the trend of urban distribution and land-use changes and factors affecting the spatial-physical development of the city during 30 years were investigated. Then, to predict Isfahan urban development using LTM, the future growth for 2046 was examined, simulated, and evaluated. Land use changes were predicted as a "trend scenario" during the next three decades (2016-2046) based on the proposed LTM model. To achieve the "optimal scenario", modeling the ecological power zoning of urban development for 2046 using WLC was presented. The results of land use changes during the period 1986-2016 show a 178% increase in built-up lands and a decrease in agricultural (-13%), tree-covered (-75%), and pasture land uses (-28%). The results obtained from the methods of forecasting the future development of Isfahan for 2046 with the LTM model demonstrate the spatial expansion in the coming years as a spiral and the conversion of other uses into built-up areas to the extent that in the year of the horizon, the area of the built-up areas of the city increases 33% (5918 hectares) will reach 23781 hectares in 2046 from 17863 hectares in 2016. The zoning results modeling the ecological potential of Isfahan urban development to identify and measure land suitability of development in 2046 via WLC also indicate that the total area of lands with high and medium suitability for urban development covers 5712 hectares.

Extended Abstract


The present study aims to present an analytical framework for the effect of urban sprawl on land use changes in Isfahan City, to predict the trend of land development and land use developments until 2046, and finally, to find a suitable and scientific framework to identify suitable places for the development of human settlements. The first goal is to determine the spatial-physical development process of Isfahan city and its effect on agricultural, tree-covered, pasture, and water surface land uses. The second goal is to use LTM to predict land use developments in the next three decades (2046). The third goal is to identify and measure land suitability for Isfahan development in 2046 by modeling urban development's ecological potential zoning using WLC. The questions answered in this research are: 1- What is the spatial-physical development pattern of Isfahan city, and what effect has it had on its expansion? 2- Based on the “trend” and “optimal situation” scenarios, what will be the modeling of land use changes and growth and spatial-physical development of Isfahan City in 2046?


The applied study employed a combination of “documentary, descriptive, analytical, causal, and survey research” methods due to the dependence of the dependent variable of Isfahan urban growth on the independent variables effective in Isfahan development. Data analysis methods were four methods proposed by Tsai (agglomeration grade, equal distribution grade, density, and metropolis size), LTM, and WLC.

Results and discussion

Isfahan’s physical growth and land use changes were simulated using LTM. First, land use maps of the city were prepared, and changes in land uses and urban growth areas were examined during the 30 years from 1986 to 2016. LTM was employed to train, test, simulate, and predict the possible development of the city on the horizon of 2046; on this basis, the “trend scenario” was compiled. The results of the LTM model show a decrease in the extent of wastelands, agricultural land uses, pastures, and tree-covered land uses. In contrast, it offers an increase in residential areas. The area of built land will increase to 23,781 hectares in this period, which will increase by 5,918 hectares (33%) compared to the base year (2016), with an area of 17,863 hectares. To formulate the “optimal situation scenario”, WLC was used to model the ecological capacity of urban development to identify suitable lands for the development of Isfahan City in 2046. The WLC results method indicate that suitable lands for Isfahan’s future development are mainly located on the city westerly, northwesterly, northerly, easterly, and northeasterly.


The research results can be employed as a model for choosing suitable areas for urban development. Therefore, via the proper methods, it is possible to prevent urban growth and development in the direction of inappropriate areas.


There is no funding support.

Authors’ Contribution

Authors contributed equally to the conceptualization and writing of the article. All of the authors approved thecontent of the manuscript and agreed on all aspects of the work declaration of competing interest none.

Conflict of Interest

Authors declared no conflict of interest.


We are grateful to all the scientific consultants of this paper.

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Main Subjects

Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 03 December 2023
  • Receive Date: 04 October 2023
  • Revise Date: 02 December 2023
  • Accept Date: 03 December 2023