Mondal B, Sharma P, Kundu D, Bansal S. Spatio-temporal Assessment of Landscape Ecological Risk and Associated Drivers: A Case Study of Delhi. Environment and Urbanization ASIA. 2021;12(1_suppl):S85-S106. doi:10.1177/09754253211007830


Urbanization is considered as the key driver for land use and land cover (LULC) changes across the globe and Delhi is no exception to this phenomenon. The population of Delhi has almost doubled from 8.4 million in 1991 to 16.3 million in 2011. Correspondingly, the built-up area has also increased from 336.82 to 598.22 km2 during 1999–2018. This urban expansion has led to emergence of serious ecological risk and fragmentation of the landscape. In this context, it is imperative to analyse the level of risks induced by such urban expansion and its underlying associations with other factors.

This article quantifies the LULC changes in Delhi during 1999–2018 using Landsat 5 (TM) and Landsat 8 (OLI) data. A spatio-temporal sprawl induced risk assessment index has been developed by combining landscape fragmentation score and land use land cover vulnerability score. The landscape fragmentation score was based on four landscape metrics, whereas the vulnerability score was computed from LULC data. The article also assesses the association between risk areas and economic activities, environmental and infrastructural amenities that are considered key drivers of urban expansion in Delhi. To estimate spatio-temporal variability between risk areas and key drivers, ordinary least square regression and geographical weighted regression (GWR) were used.

The GWR results reveal that sprawl-induced ecological risk in Delhi is strongly associated with economic activity, infrastructural accessibility and environmental amenities. This spatial empirical assessment also shows that urban growth incentives or services such as roads, metro rail, schools and hospitals can also create pressure on the landscape if local authorities arbitrarily provide these services across space without considering the associated risks.