Social connections between villages can represent farmers’ interests and thus benefit participatory rural relocation planning. With rural development, however, these connections will change and may weaken the adaptation of relocation plans to future rural systems. As yet, most studies still use empirical social connections to guide relocation planning, while a few have incorporated predicted connections in the context of rural development into relocation decisions. Meanwhile, spatial optimization approaches have seldom been adopted to solve this geographical decision issue. Accordingly, our study proposes a novel spatial relocation framework that incorporates changed inter‐village social connections under future rural development scenarios. Empirical inter‐village connections and their policy‐induced changes in central China were explored using social network analysis. An integration of particle swarm optimization and geographic information systems was adopted to identify the relocation solutions with maximum inter‐village connections and maximum spatial land use compactness, and to examine how connection changes under different policy scenarios influenced relocation outcomes. The results demonstrate the significance of incorporating policy‐induced social connections into relocation plans, and most importantly, show the negative relations between changed social connections and the migration distance/direction of relocated settlements. Our study is expected to improve the adaptation of relocation plans to future rural development.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.