The present study analyzes the impact of long-term urban expansion on soil depletion in Emilia-Romagna, an agricultural-specialized region of northern Italy. Using settlement density maps at three points in time (1945, 1971 and 2001) dense and diffused urbanization trends were assessed and correlated with soil quality. Non-urbanized land decreased from 11.8% in 1945 to 6.3% in 2001. Urbanization dynamics between 1945 and 1971 reflect the increase of dense settlements around pre-existing urban centers. To the contrary, a discontinuous, low- and medium-density urban expansion along the road network and in the most fertile lowland areas was observed between 1971 and 2001. Overall, urbanization consumed soils with progressively higher quality. However, a diverging trend was observed in the two investigated time intervals: soil with high quality was occupied by compact and dense settlements during 1945–1971 and by discontinuous, medium- and low-density settlements during 1971–2001. These findings document the polarization in areas with low and high soil capital and may reflect disparities in agricultural production and increasing environmental degradation. Moreover, the analysis shows a diverging trend between land and soil consumption patterns suggesting that the edification of pervious land is an unreliable indicator of soil quality depletion. Taken together, the results of this study illustrate the (increasing) spatial mismatch between agricultural land and high-quality soils as a consequence of urbanization-driven landscape transformations and may inform measures to contain soil depletion driven by economic growth.

Soil resources, land cover changes and rural areas: Towards a spatial mismatch?

FERRARA, Agostino Maria Silvio;SALVATI, LUCA;
2014

Abstract

The present study analyzes the impact of long-term urban expansion on soil depletion in Emilia-Romagna, an agricultural-specialized region of northern Italy. Using settlement density maps at three points in time (1945, 1971 and 2001) dense and diffused urbanization trends were assessed and correlated with soil quality. Non-urbanized land decreased from 11.8% in 1945 to 6.3% in 2001. Urbanization dynamics between 1945 and 1971 reflect the increase of dense settlements around pre-existing urban centers. To the contrary, a discontinuous, low- and medium-density urban expansion along the road network and in the most fertile lowland areas was observed between 1971 and 2001. Overall, urbanization consumed soils with progressively higher quality. However, a diverging trend was observed in the two investigated time intervals: soil with high quality was occupied by compact and dense settlements during 1945–1971 and by discontinuous, medium- and low-density settlements during 1971–2001. These findings document the polarization in areas with low and high soil capital and may reflect disparities in agricultural production and increasing environmental degradation. Moreover, the analysis shows a diverging trend between land and soil consumption patterns suggesting that the edification of pervious land is an unreliable indicator of soil quality depletion. Taken together, the results of this study illustrate the (increasing) spatial mismatch between agricultural land and high-quality soils as a consequence of urbanization-driven landscape transformations and may inform measures to contain soil depletion driven by economic growth.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11563/70893
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