This study examines spatial land use planning and urban green spaces practices in Tehran, Iran, one of the rapidly urbanizing cities Asia. It demonstrates how urban green spaces livelihood can be integrated in spatial land use planning and improves urban land governance by taking Tehran County as case study settlements. Location and urban typology are theoretical premises used in this study. These help in understanding the policy and practical premises that constrain urban green spaces livelihood integration in urban land use planning processes and land management principles.
Methodological aspects deployed are documentary search, interviews, mapping, observations, and historical trends analysis. In addition, context, evidence based and institutional links are analytical frameworks used.
The study shows that the urbanization processes, urban poverty and inadequate community involvement in land use planning are the factors underpinning and catalyzing changes in land use, land transactions, immigration and overall urban green spaces proliferation in the city. The implications generated by these factors suggest that poor urban land governance is not only the cause, but it is caused by the weakness of planning institutions to realize and adapt to the new challenges that urban green spaces presents to urban land development process. Correspondingly, the rise of urban agricultural land use by and large, indicates a disparity between the widely cherished planning norms and standards underpinning formal land use planning processes and structures in urban development. These include land use zoning, location, land use change conditions, density distribution, and accessibility to resources, land tenure modalities, and equitable provision of basic services in ensuring sustainable use of urban land. Equally, the study indicates the existence of supportive city land development policies and country legislature for urban green spaces, which are in practice faced with health, sanitation and economic return constraints. These constraints increase urban green space's negative perceptions to consumers and decrease acceptance in spatial land use planning processes and output implementation. However, urban green spaces has been observed to make productive use of undeveloped land, green the city, provide income and nutrition, and is often a safety-net function for the poorest sectors of society. As such, it is an important vehicle for poverty alleviation, capital mobilization, and sustainable use of land.
The study argues that for an unforeseeable future, the growth of the urban green spaces sector is likely to remain an indispensable reality depicting urban land development in rapidly urbanizing cities in Tehran County. Inclusion of urban green spaces based livelihoods in spatial land use planning processes and structures, including decision making, preparation, and implementation and monitoring are observed rationale for improving the livelihoods of the citizens and space use. This can be achieved through, but not limited to, adopting participatory urban planning approaches, settlement upgrading, institutional collaborations, decentralizing roles to the local level and strengthening smallholder organization through institutionalization and giving them a voice platform in the political dialogue. These options can be effective if the government is able to enforce and review policy and legislatures in place and if different actors are involved in the decision making processes, and if information and communication awareness is established. Other improvement include the use of treated wastewater technology for farming, granting long term tenure security, improving accessibility to resources, and adopting flexible planning standards. The study concludes that urban planners and policy makers have little choice but to ensconce and consolidate emerging forms of urban green spaces based livelihoods within land use planning practices and within a guided planning framework. If urban green spaces forms are not guided, then the negative effects, in the long run can undermine the livelihood of the urban poor and degrade the environment. Thus, there is an urgent need to guide the processes, strengthen institutional structures and linkages in land use planning practices, and consider local communities priorities when working to improve urban land governance in Iran.