Project title: Conceptualizing urbanization as driver of agricultural land abandonment

Project number: PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2016-1156

Contract No.: 65/2018

Funding body: The Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI)

Budget: 297.485,00 RON

Period: 2018-2020


Simona R. Gradinaru – Project Leader
Cristian Ioan Ioja – Mentor



The United Nations` New Urban Agenda and recent reports of the European Environmental Agency stress the need for action towards the efficient use of land through sustainable planning of urban regions. The special issues of Science journal – Urban Planet (2016) emphasizes the urgency of studying urbanization by focusing on linkages with agricultural systems. Rapid urbanization and agricultural land abandonment are the most pressing issues, affecting human society, natural and agro- ecosystems. One of the difficulties in conceptualizing urbanization as driver of abandonment is that researches require multi-scalar and multi-dimensional approaches. Understanding urbanization – land abandonment connections should be based on integrated methods from Land change science and Spatial planning. The project aims is to conceptualize urbanization as driver of land abandonment, by determining the role of urbanization as spatially explicit driver of abandonment, including the role of socio-economic and political factors, including the role of spatial planning. Elements of originality and innovation derive from integrated approach of urbanization, spatial assessment of factors` contribution to land abandonment, improving the knowledge about coherence of spatial planning instruments, application of grounded theory methods in land change studies, transfer of state-of-the-art methods in spatial to planning evaluation. The project proposes and adapts cutting edge methods in the fields of Land change science and Spatial planning.


The CONURB project aims to conceptualize urbanization as driver of land abandonment.

Work hypothesis

The central hypothesis of this proposed research is that (i) local manifestations of urbanization as driver of agricultural land abandonment in urban regions can be revealed through spatially explicit analysis which incorporate social, economic, environmental and political factors. Among them, planning as political factor, can play a decisive role in through (ii) planning instruments which insufficiently promote efficient use of land, and (iii) planning practices which can amplify the process of abandonment.


Project objectives start with determining the role of urbanization as spatially explicit driver of abandonment by analysing socio-economic, and political factors (O1). Then, we evaluate the ability of current planning instruments to promote efficient use of urban land (O2). Finally, we predict the contribution of planning to future patterns of abandonment (O3).

Main results



  • Grădinaru S.R., Iojă C.I., Niță M.R., Fan P. Planning for sustainable urbanization at national level in times of political and institutional changes: the Romanian case, Sustainability and Development Conference, 9-11 November 2018, Ann Harbor, SUA