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02/07/2022 | Campus-Meldung

Urbanization of landscapes leads to fractal patterns

Understanding and managing human settlement patterns is one of the greatest challenges of the urban age. A study at the Department of Ecological Agricultural Sciences at the University of Kassel (Department of Ecological Crop Production and Agroecosystem Research in the Tropics and Subtropics) now indicates that targeted planning and the collective, self-organized behavior of inhabitants interact in the development of regional settlement patterns.

Settlements with fractal patterns. Graphic: FB 11 Ecological Agricultural Sciences

In doing so, they often produce fractal patterns - similar to self-organizing systems in nature. Fractals follow a growth by producing smaller copies of themselves, i.e. by producing similar patterns with almost identical structures. The study focuses on the settlement system of the state of Punjab in northern India.

In their study, Dr. Thanh Thi Nguyen, Dr. Ellen Hofmann and Prof. Dr. Andreas Bürkert illustrate that fractal forms could represent a nature-based alternative to established planning paradigms. With the goal of gaining fundamental knowledge, the research team combined different research approaches. Their findings could help raise planners' and decision-makers' awareness of system-immanent properties and organizing principles in urban and regional development and thus "lead to more sustainable rural-urban transformations," they conclude.

Titled "Spatial patterns of urbanising landscapes in the North Indian Punjab show features predicted by fractal theory," the paper is published on the prestigious British science portal Scientific Reports (Nature group) and is freely available.



Dr. Ellen Hoffmann
FB 11 Ecological Agricultural Sciences,
Department of Organic Crop Production and Agroecosystem Research in the Tropics and Subtropics
Tel.: 05542 - 98 12 51
E-Mail: ellen. hoffmann[at]uni-kassel[dot]de