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Sustainability 2015, 7(9), 11980-11997; doi:10.3390/su70911980

Desperately Seeking Sustainability: Urban Shrinkage, Land Consumption and Regional Planning in a Mediterranean Metropolitan Area

1
Italian Council of Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), Via della Navicella 2, I-00184 Rome, Italy
2
School of Agricultural, Forest, Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Basilicata, Via dell'Ateneo Lucano 10, I-85100 Potenza, Italy
3
Department of Methods and Models for Territory, Economy and Finance, Sapienza University of Rome, Via del Castro Laurenziano 9, I-00161 Rome, Italy
4
Department of Agriculture, Forest, Nature and Energy (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Via S. Camillo de Lellis snc Viterbo, Italy
5
Italian Council of Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), Via del Caravita 7a, I-00186 Rome, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 5 July 2015 / Revised: 20 August 2015 / Accepted: 20 August 2015 / Published: 28 August 2015
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Abstract

Land degradation has expanded in the Mediterranean region as a result of a variety of factors, including economic and population growth, land-use changes and climate variations. The level of land vulnerability to degradation and its growth over time are distributed heterogeneously over space, concentrating on landscapes exposed to high human pressure. The present study investigates the level of land vulnerability to degradation in a shrinking urban area (Rome, Italy) at four points in time (1960, 1990, 2000 and 2010) and it identifies relevant factors negatively impacting the quality of land and the level of landscape fragmentation. A multi-domain assessment of land vulnerability incorporating indicators of climate quality, soil quality, vegetation quality and land management quality was carried out based on the Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) framework. The highest rate of growth in the level of land vulnerability was observed in low-density suburban areas. The peri-urban mosaic formed by coastal woodlands and traditional cropland preserved high-quality land with a stable degree of vulnerability over time. Evidence suggests that the agro-forest mosaic surrounding Mediterranean cities act as a “buffer zone” mitigating on-site and off-site land degradation. The conservation of relict natural landscapes is a crucial target for multi-scale policies combating land degradation in suburban dry regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: Mediterranean basin; land quality; indicators; vulnerability; urban expansion Mediterranean basin; land quality; indicators; vulnerability; urban expansion
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Salvati, L.; Ferrara, A.; Tombolini, I.; Gemmiti, R.; Colantoni, A.; Perini, L. Desperately Seeking Sustainability: Urban Shrinkage, Land Consumption and Regional Planning in a Mediterranean Metropolitan Area. Sustainability 2015, 7, 11980-11997.

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