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Sound and independent information
on the environment

Italy

Land use (Italy)

Why should we care about this issue

Topic
Land Land
more info
ISPRA
Organisation name
ISPRA
Reporting country
Italy
Organisation website
Organisation website
Contact link
Contact link
Last updated
03 Jan 2011
Content license
CC By 2.5
Content provider
ISPRA
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 03 Jan 2011 original
Key message

Part C - Italy - Commonality (July, 05 2010) - Care

Land management is crucial both for humans and the preservation of biodiversity. Soil is essential to the existence of living species on our planet. Despite this, land management is too often perceived only in terms of support to agricultural production and as a physical basis on which to develop human activities.

Land management plays a primary role in maintaining biodiversity – over 95 % of terrestrial biodiversity lives in soil for a relevant part of its natural history –, regulating nutritional cycles, controlling the quantity of atmospheric CO2, protecting underground waters from pollution, regulating surface water flows producing direct effects on floods and landslides, etc. Moreover, plant biomass depends on the conditions of the soil with evident consequences on the whole food chain.

Land management generally influences life and humans and necessary elements for their sustenance, and is crucial for soil preservation – soil is a largely non-renewable and extremely fragile resource.

In many Italian areas, severe soil degradation processes are occurring due to inappropriate management, sometimes even in an irreversible way. These processes result from growing demands from various economic sectors and from population growth, the impacts of climate change and changes in use. The evolution of the most important dynamics of land cover and land use on national territory, between 1990 and 2006, highlights a progressive increase in artificial areas to the detriment of cropland and, after 2000, of forestland and semi-natural environments. These processes may often be highlighted too late, when they are irreversible or so advanced that recovery is extremely difficult and economically inconvenient.

 

For a detailed treatment of topics addressed above, see key topics at

http://annuario.apat.it/capitoli/Ver_6/en/Soil%20and%20land.pdf

 

The state and impacts

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 03 Jan 2011 original
Key message

Part C - Italy - Commonality (July, 05 2010) - State and Impact

Figures

Figure 3

Comparison of CLC data ratio: a)2000-1990/1990 and b)2006-2000/2000.
Data source
http://www.sense.sinanet.isprambiente.it/Plone/land/ispra
Figure 3
Fullscreen image Original link

Figure 4

Comparison annual averages change, 1990-2000 and 2000-2006, km2
Data source
http://www.sense.sinanet.isprambiente.it/Plone/land/ispra
Figure 4
Fullscreen image Original link

Figure 6

Comparison of the variation of soil consumption with resident population
Data source
http://www.sense.sinanet.isprambiente.it/Plone/land/ispra
Figure 6
Fullscreen image Original link

Even though the land changes that occurred between 2000 and 2006 only affected about 1 % of the country, a comparison of Corine Land Cover (CLC) layers shows a general increase of artificial surfaces to the detriment of agricultural and forest lands. Figure 1 shows the status of land cover in Italy using the second level of the CLC 2006 analysis.

 

Comparing the data shown in Figure 2 with those for 1990-2000 (Figures 3 and 4), the change in the natural environment trend becomes evident. Although there was a general increase of forest and semi/natural areas for 1990-2000, in 2000-2006 these decreased by about 105 km2.

Land take due to the expansion of artificial areas and the related infrastructures, which can lead to the total loss of large areas of land often characterised by soils with a high agricultural value, is the biggest driver of land cover change. Land degradation occurs especially on agricultural and semi-natural areas at the urban fringe and on rural lands close to cities and subjected to peri-urbanisation processes.

The result is an increase of soil sealing, totally preventing soil from performing its vital functions, especially near urban areas and along main road axes. In particular, the problem is taking on worrying proportions in large plain areas, where urbanisation is coupled with intensive farming, and in coastal areas where the coastal economy is linked to  tourist pressure (Figure 5).

Land take and soil sealing assessments have been executed on the basis of a national land monitoring network managed by ISPRA. This network is aimed at estimating diachronically the soil – thematic cartography, aerial photographs, remote sensing, archive materials and field visits. The analysis was completed over a long-term period, 1956-2006, showing the rapid growth of the sealed surface areas, with higher rates found in northern Italy (Table 1).

 

Table 1 Percentage of soil sealing in Italy, 1956-2006)

 

1956

1994

2000

2006

North-West

3.2

6.4

6.7

7.3

North-East

2.6

5.6

6.1

6.7

Centre

2.2

5.2

5.3

6.3

South

2.0

4.8

4.9

6.0

Islands

1.9

4.4

4.5

5.4

Italy

2.4

5.3

5.5

6.3

 

Source: ISPRA

 

By comparing the variation of soil consumption with resident population over fifty years, it is possible to distinguish a clear decoupling between soil sealing and population growth (Figure 6).

 

As a consequence of all these pressures, desertification is also becoming an evident problem especially in Sardinia, Sicily, Apulia, Basilicata and Calabria.

For a detailed treatment of topics addressed above, see key topics at

http://annuario.apat.it/capitoli/Ver_6/en/Soil%20and%20land.pdf )

 

 

Land cover flows Analysis

 

Table 2 shows the changes grouped according to so-called flows of land cover that are classified according to major land use processes:

 

  • lcf1 Urban land management;
  • lcf2 Urban residential sprawl;
  • lcf3 Sprawl of economic sites and infrastructures;
  • lcf4 Agriculture internal conversions;
  • lcf5 Conversion from forested and natural land to agriculture;
  • lcf6 Withdrawal of farming;
  • lcf7 Forests creation and management;
  • lcf8 Water bodies creation and management.

 

Table 2 Land cover flows, 1990-2006

 

 

 

Changes

average annual changes

 

 

 

 

1990-2000

2000-2006

1990-2000

2000-2006

 

 

 

   km2

   km2

Formation of Artificial surfaces

868,5

573,4

86,9

95,6

LCF1 Urban land management: Internal transformation of urban areas

29,3

86,8

2,9

14,5

 

lcf11

Urban development/ infilling

0,8

2,4

0,1

0,4

 

lcf12

Recycling of developed urban land

27,9

81,4

2,8

13,6

 

lcf13

Development of green urban areas

0,6

3,0

0,1

0,5

LCF2 Urban residential sprawl

498,8

133,3

49,9

22,2

 

lcf21

Urban dense residential sprawl

4,4

0,8

0,4

0,1

 

lcf22

Urban diffuse residential sprawl

494,4

132,5

49,4

22,1

LCF3 Sprawl of economic sites and infrastructures

340,4

353,3

34,0

58,9

 

lcf31

Sprawl of industrial and commercial sites

233,9

198,1

23,4

33,0

 

lcf32

Sprawl of transport networks

7,7

17,2

0,8

2,9

 

lcf33

Sprawl of harbours

1,7

1,0

0,2

0,2

 

lcf34

Sprawl of airports

1,3

3,8

0,1

0,6

 

lcf35

Sprawl of mines and quarrying areas

51,1

48,1

5,1

8,0

 

lcf36

Sprawl of dumpsites

1,9

2,0

0,2

0,3

 

lcf37

Construction

24,8

66,2

2,5

11,0

 

lcf38

Sprawl of sport and leisure facilities

18,1

16,8

1,8

2,8

Formation of Agricultural areas

538,6

234,0

53,9

39,0

LCF4 Agriculture internal conversions

508,9

200,3

50,9

33,4

 

lcf41

Extension of set aside fallow land and pasture

235,1

65,7

23,5

10,9

 

lcf42

Internal conversions between annual crops

82,7

39,9

8,3

6,6

 

lcf43

Internal conversions between permanent crops

0,0

0,0

0,0

0,0

 

lcf44

Conversion from permanent crops to arable land

112,0

23,9

11,2

4,0

 

lcf45

Conversion from arable land to permanent crops

79,1

70,9

7,9

11,8

 

lcf46

Conversion from pasture to arable and permanent crops

0,0

0,0

0,0

0,0

 

lcf47

Extension of agro-forestry

0,0

0,0

0,0

0,0

LCF5 Conversion from forested & natural land to agriculture

29,6

33,7

3,0

5,6

 

lcf51

Conversion from forest to agriculture

26,5

23,4

2,7

3,9

 

lcf52

Conversion from semi-natural land to agriculture

0,4

0,3

0,0

0,0

 

lcf53

Conversion from wetlands to agriculture

2,4

3,8

0,2

0,6

 

lcf54

Conversion from developed areas to agriculture

0,4

6,2

0,0

1,0

Formation of Forested or open natural surfaces

2.423,3

1.430,3

242,3

238,4

LCF6 Withdrawal of farming

842,4

26,0

84,2

4,3

 

lcf61 Withdrawal of farming with woodland creation

269,7

15,4

27,0

2,6

 

lcf62 Withdrawal of farming without significant woodland creation

572,7

10,7

57,3

1,8

LCF7 Forests creation and management

1.580,8

1.404,2

158,1

234,0

 

lcf71 Conversion from transitional woodland to forest

888,0

246,0

88,8

41,0

 

lcf72 Forest creation, afforestation

558,9

648,4

55,9

108,1

 

lcf73 Forests internal conversions

3,5

2,5

0,4

0,4

 

lcf74 Recent felling and transition

130,4

507,3

13,0

84,6

Formation of Wetlands and Water surfaces

28,2

41,2

2,8

6,9

LCF8 Water bodies creation and management

28,2

41,2

2,8

6,9

 

lcf81 Water bodies creation

23,9

41,1

2,4

6,8

 

lcf82 Water bodies management

4,3

0,1

0,4

0,0

Source: ISPRA

Table 2 clearly illustrates one of the most evident phenomena about the decrease of farming, especially in the Apennines, that has harmed rural communities as the mountains were abandoned because traditional agriculture was no longer profitable, leading to a lack of job opportunities. In Italy, the number of farm workers was slashed from 48.43 % of the population in 1936 to just 5.7 % in 2000.

 

It is also important to reflect on the conversion between farming types  –internal conversions – mainly due to the transformation of the old methods of farming to industrialised agriculture.

The decrease in farmland, especially between 1990 and 2000, may also explain the major part of the conversion of transitional woodland to forest.

 

Also notable is the steady growth of artificial areas in the 1990-2006 period. Between 1990 and 2000, the urban residential sprawl – land uptake by residential buildings together with associated services and urban infrastructure from non-urban land – was rapid, but slowed after 2000, while the internal transformation of urban areas and the sprawl of economic sites and infrastructures increased.

 

 

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 03 Jan 2011 original
Key message

Part C - Italy - Commonality (July, 05 2010) - Drivers and pressures

Figures

Figure 7

Localisation, dimensions and relevant legislation of Sites of National Interest (2008)
Data source
http://www.sense.sinanet.isprambiente.it/Plone/land/ispra-1
Figure 7
Fullscreen image Original link

Inappropriate agricultural practices, concentration of the human population, climate change as well as land use/land cover change limit, or totally inhibit, environmental equilibrium.

Comparing population and settlement dynamics in several Italian municipalities, some typical features of Italy’s recent urbanisation emerge: until the mid-1970s, settlement development trends followed demographic growth. From the mid-1970s, the two dynamics diverged as population growth fell to zero almost everywhere. By contrast, urban sprawl continued to increase steadily.

Urbanisation in coastal areas also plays a particularly important role because of the physical conformity of the country. In Italy, about 30 % of the population lives in 642 municipalities along the coastline, without taking into account seasonal and tourist flows. In the last decades, Italian coasts – more than 8,000 km – underwent a strong anthropisation process; in many cases, changed natural and environmental features.

Contaminated sites are another critical issue. In Italy, there are currently 57 Contaminated Sites of National Interest, for which recovery efforts are being coordinated directly by the Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea. Furthermore, regional authorities have the responsibility over around 15 000 potentially contaminated sites, 4 000 of which need to be reclaimed.

Reclamation of brownfields, abandoned, inactive or underused sites that once hosted productive, generally industrial or commercial, facilities, is hindered by past pollution, either real or potential.

Mining activities have been scaled back considerably, though problems related to abandoned sites remain unsolved. At present, only 194 mines are actually in operation. Throughout Italy, approximately 5.650 quarries are active, with more than 60 % involving the extraction of clay, sand, gravel and limestone. It is not possible to provide an overview of the abandoned or unauthorised sites.

For a detailed treatment of topics addressed above, see key topics at

http://annuario.apat.it/capitoli/Ver_6/en/Soil%20and%20land.pd )

 

 

Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 03 Jan 2011 original
Key message

Part C - Italy - Commonality (July, 05 2010) - Responses

Urban expansion has become a matter of concern for regional and local planning and the derived changes in land use/cover were recently considered when developing strategies of sustainable development specifically designed for urban areas. However, there is still a lack of a national legislation giving clear targets on limiting land take and consumption.

Moreover, the monitoring carried out by national and regional environmental agencies, through the integrated use of field surveys and remote sensing, is providing the first significant results. Nevertheless, monitoring activity must be empowered, because some parts of Italy do not yet provide all the environmental information needed and sought.

The recovery of contaminated sites is regulated by Ministerial Decree 471/99, and then by Legislative Decree 152/06 (Part IV, Chapter V) with the relative Corrective Decree 4/08. Legislative Decree 152/06 is also focussed on mitigating hydrogeological risk, combating desertification, water resources management and protecting soil from pollution. Regarding contamination of water by nitrates, the law establishes the regional identification of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) as well as zones vulnerable to plant protection products. The quality of sewage sludge in agriculture, defined in EU Directive 86/278/CEE, has been implemented by Legislative Decree 99/92.  

In Italy, conversion of mines to cultivation was introduced by Royal Decree no. 1443 of 29/07/1927. The administrative functions relating to mines were transferred to the regions with Legislative Decree 112/98.

In recent years, Legislative Decree 117/2008, implementing Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste from extractive industries, establishes measures, procedures and necessary actions to prevent or reduce, as much as possible, any eventual negative effects on the environment and human health risks caused by the management of waste from extractive industries.

Quarrying activities are regulated by regional laws as established by the Decree of the President of the Republic no. 616 of 24/7/1977, which transferred these responsibilities to the regions.

 

For a detailed treatment of topics addressed above, see key topics at

http://annuario.apat.it/capitoli/Ver_6/en/Soil%20and%20land.pd )

Authors:

Nico Bonora, Marco Di Leginio, Fiorenzo Fumanti, Alessandra Galosi, Ines Marinosci, Michele Munafò, Valter Sambucini, Luca Segazzi

 

References

ISPRA, Key Topics –Italian Environmental Data Yearbook 2008. Rome, 2009. http://annuario.apat.it/

ISPRA, Vademecum –Italian Environmental Data Yearbook 2008. Rome, 2009. http://annuario.apat.it/

ISPRA, VI RAPPORTO ANNUALE SULLA QUALITÀ DELL'AMBIENTE URBANO – Edizione 2009, Roma, 2010

APAT, III ANNUAL REPORT ON URBAN ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY - Edition 2006 – Summary. Rome, 2006

Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, Environmental Challenges – Summary of the State of the environment in Italy, Rome, 2009

 

http://www.mais.sinanet.isprambiente.it/ost/

 

 

Disclaimer

The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

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