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Frontier Research of Environmental Sustainability: Green Infrastructure and Rural Landscape Planning

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2023) | Viewed by 11726

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Sassari, 07100 Sassari, Italy
Interests: adaptation to climate change; landscape fragmentation; landscape planning; rural buildings; rural landscape analysis and planning; spatial planning; strategic environmental assessment; green infrastructure
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Sassari, 07100 Sassari, Italy
Interests: adaptation to climate change; landscape fragmentation; landscape planning; rural buildings; rural landscape analysis and planning; spatial planning; strategic environmental assessment; green infrastructure
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Co-Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Sassari, 07100 Sassari, Italy
Interests: rural landscape; landscape fragmentation; habitat connectivity; geographic information system; adaptation to climate change
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Excessive and uncontrolled urbanization and transport and mobility infrastructure are causes of landscape fragmentation, degradation of urban, rural, semi-natural, and natural habitats, and loss of endemic biodiversity and ecosystem services that are relevant to the survival and wellbeing of people and other living beings. On the other hand, such phenomena are exacerbated by extreme weather events due to climate change.

Restoration, conservation, and sustainable use of ecosystems; sustainable forest management; restoration and combat against desertification of degraded land and soil; and conservation and protection of biodiversity are some targets of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which has been adopted by all United Nations Member States. Sustainable development is at the core of the 2030 Agenda and lies on three pillars: economic, social, and environmental sustainability. This Special Issue focuses on environmental sustainability. In this regard, green infrastructure can be considered useful for promoting environmental sustainability with the purpose of improving environmental conditions, enhancing biodiversity, and positively affecting people’s lives. Rural landscape planning has the potential to promote the use of Green Infrastructure through strategies, plans, programs, and projects from a regional to subregional (local) scale.

The Special Issue aims at collecting scientific contributions concerning environmental sustainability and the use of green infrastructure, in the context of regional or subregional landscape planning, with focus on the rural dimension. The Special Issue aims at providing the international audience with an overall picture of the current innovations in research fields about (i) green infrastructure planning and design and (ii) rural landscape planning, with emphasis on environmental sustainability.

Authors are invited to submit original research articles concerning innovative approaches for (though not exclusively) governance of green infrastructure and rural landscape planning; green infrastructures as defragmentation measures in fragmented rural landscapes, sustainable rural buildings and green infrastructure, design of sustainable rural buildings through building information modeling and integration of green infrastructure, planning rural contexts by stressing the role of green infrastructure through geographic information systems, integration of green infrastructure in rural landscape planning with the purpose of promoting adaptation to climate change and environmental sustainability, environmental sustainability in rural landscapes through green infrastructure, planning and design of green infrastructure in rural landscapes, and integration of green infrastructure into strategic environmental assessment for rural landscape planning.

Dr. Antonio Ledda
Prof. Dr. Andrea De Montis
Dr. Vittorio Serra
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • environmental sustainability
  • green infrastructure
  • rural landscape planning
  • geographic information system
  • building information modeling
  • strategic environmental assessment
  • landscape fragmentation
  • adaptation to climate change
  • rural buildings
  • landscape planning
  • regional planning
  • subregional planning

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

19 pages, 6873 KiB  
Article
Thermal Comfort Improvement Strategies for Outdoor Spaces in Traditional Villages Based on ENVI-Met: Shimengao Village in Chizhou City
by Tieqiao Xiao, Lanlan Sheng, Shaojie Zhang, Licheng Zheng and Taotao Shui
Sustainability 2023, 15(15), 11785; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151511785 - 31 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1238
Abstract
The thermal comfort of outdoor spaces in traditional villages must be improved because high building density combined with complex and narrow spaces leads to a poor thermal environment. In traditional villages, outdoor spaces are the most frequently used places by local residents and [...] Read more.
The thermal comfort of outdoor spaces in traditional villages must be improved because high building density combined with complex and narrow spaces leads to a poor thermal environment. In traditional villages, outdoor spaces are the most frequently used places by local residents and tourists. In this study, the Shimengao Village in Tangxi Town, Chizhou City, a typical mountainous area in the southern Anhui Province, was selected as the research object, and Depthmap software was used to identify the most frequently used outdoor spaces. The spatial layout and three different outdoor spaces of the traditional village were measured and validated using ENVI-met software. In addition, the distribution of thermal comfort in the core area of the village and influencing factors were analyzed. Our results demonstrated that during summer, PET reached its highest value at 15:00, exhibiting a poor thermal environment in the core area of traditional village integration. From 15:00 to 21:00, PET values declined, resulting in improved thermal comfort levels. Open spaces had better thermal comfort ratings throughout the day. The thermal comfort distribution of three different types of outdoor space in traditional villages was also analyzed. The courtyard space had the worst thermal comfort, followed by the street space, whereas the square space had the best thermal comfort environment. This was correlated with the spatial layout of traditional villages, external facilities of buildings, microlandscapes (plants, water availability, etc.), and outdoor ground materials. Hence, we propose that optimizing the overall spatial layout of a traditional village, increasing the external facilities of buildings, creating “micro landscapes,” and optimizing the materials of outdoor spaces are important for improving the thermal comfort of the outdoor spaces of traditional villages. Full article
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33 pages, 36259 KiB  
Article
Linking Green Infrastructure Deployment Needs and Agroecosystem Conditions for the Improvement of the Natura2000 Network: Preliminary Investigations in W Mediterranean Europe
by Simone Valeri and Giulia Capotorti
Sustainability 2023, 15(13), 10191; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151310191 - 27 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1288
Abstract
Reconnecting natural habitats and improving agroecosystem conditions are strategic targets set by several European policies. In order to combine both of these needs, the European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 has triggered new investments in Green Infrastructure (GI), which actually represents a valuable tool [...] Read more.
Reconnecting natural habitats and improving agroecosystem conditions are strategic targets set by several European policies. In order to combine both of these needs, the European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 has triggered new investments in Green Infrastructure (GI), which actually represents a valuable tool to increase ecological connectivity across natural and semi-natural habitats. In particular, GI may benefit the Natura2000 (N2K) network (i.e., the network of protected sites under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives) by reinforcing the node/site number, extent, and distribution and by improving connections between often small and isolated habitat patches. However, there is a lack of knowledge on what the actual needs of GI deployment are for improving the current N2K network, on the distribution of these needs across Europe and on the potential role of agricultural areas in the improvement of the network functionality. Concurrently, especially in SW Europe, there is an ongoing trend toward the homogenisation and intensification of agricultural systems and the combined loss of associated landscape elements, such as natural and semi-natural Small Woody Features (SWF). Although a well-planned network of such elements could support biodiversity and landscape connectivity, thus effectively complementing the N2K network, little evidence is available on their abundance and residual distribution, especially in agricultural areas and at continental/bioregional scales. Therefore, the present work is aimed at (i) identifying different types of territorial units (NUTS3) in W Mediterranean Europe according to current N2K network features, the overall composition of the actual landscape mosaic and the potential natural heterogeneity of the environment and (ii) identifying and spatialising N2K-related GI deployment needs according to a more specific network analysis in terms of nodes (extent of the total protected area) and links (density of residual woody elements in arable land) within the different types of NUTS3. By means of this wide-scale investigation, four different types of GI deployment needs were generalised across the W Mediterranean Europe NUTS3. Overall, the need for connection restoration prevails, followed by the need for the consolidation of node and link conservation, for the creation of new protected sites and for the enlargement of existing N2K sites. Although useful for a preliminary setting, the shortcomings related to summary data at the European level were also highlighted when compared to local-scale information, with the latter being more suitable for identifying and prioritising truly effective GI conservation and restoration actions. Full article
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23 pages, 8844 KiB  
Article
City-Region Food Systems and Biodiversity Conservation: The Case Study of the Entre-Douro-e-Minho Agrarian Region
by Mariana Filipe, Angela Lomba, João Pradinho Honrado and Andreia Saavedra Cardoso
Sustainability 2023, 15(6), 5021; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15065021 - 12 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1554
Abstract
Agriculture is the dominant form of land management with at least half of the species in Europe depending on agricultural habitats. Additionally, there is a growing demand for a more sustainable food system. In that context, food system relocalization and City-Region Food Systems [...] Read more.
Agriculture is the dominant form of land management with at least half of the species in Europe depending on agricultural habitats. Additionally, there is a growing demand for a more sustainable food system. In that context, food system relocalization and City-Region Food Systems (CRFS) are proposed for food resilience and environmental sustainability. This work represents the first attempt to map the relocalization of the potential foodshed (PF) of the Entre-Douro-e-Minho agrarian region, assessing its impacts on landscape heterogeneity and ecological value. The methodological approach, developed in a Geographic Information System, aimed to (1) map the ecological suitability of the study area, (2) propose a PF relocalization scenario, and (3) assess its impacts on land cover changes and landscape structure through landscape metrics. Outcomes of this research reflect land-use optimization concerning ecological suitability for agrarian uses, depicting the strong presence of temporary crops in the landscape. They also emphasize the need for greater detail in Land Use Plans, due to the vulnerability of coastal areas. Moreover, results revealed an increased landscape heterogeneity and related ecological value, highlighting the integration of landscape ecological properties into CRFS planning as a line of research and contributing to the implementation of land use compatible with biodiversity conservation. Full article
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19 pages, 5783 KiB  
Article
Rural Slow Routes as Connectors of Local Communities for the Promotion of Place Identity
by Maria Elena Menconi, Rosaria Abbate, Giulia Ceccarelli, Anna Grassi and David Grohmann
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3344; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043344 - 11 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1310
Abstract
European, national, and regional policies have promoted slow routes in recent decades. This paper aims to define a multi-scale method to use these routes to promote the identities of rural places. The method develops (i) a GIS-based network analysis to define the boundaries [...] Read more.
European, national, and regional policies have promoted slow routes in recent decades. This paper aims to define a multi-scale method to use these routes to promote the identities of rural places. The method develops (i) a GIS-based network analysis to define the boundaries of the service area of the route and then (ii) a participatory strategy to promote its rural identity. Furthermore, this paper studies the quality criteria for slow European routes (iii) to define quality criteria specifically for rural slow routes and to connect the case study to the broader European network. The results show that the European certification standard of EuroVelo is a valid document to evaluate the quality of slow routes in rural contexts. The case study is a slow route along the Trasimeno lake (Italy), 61 km long, called the Trasimeno ring. The service area of the route has a surface of 325 km2 and is defined as the surface that can be reached with detours from the route not exceeding 5 km along rural roads with low traffic (max 2000 v/d) and gentle slopes (maximum gradient of 15% and a cumulative elevation change for every kilometer of the road lower than 50 m). The participatory process was developed for one municipality (15.35% of the service area) with 326 km of rural streets and 35 activities linked to agriculture. In total, 80% of the rural stakeholders participated in building an online collaborative map to promote the area. The results show that rural stakeholders evaluate collaborative maps as an effective strategy for encouraging tourists and inhabitants to discover, use and respect rural place identities. Full article
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26 pages, 3151 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of the Perception and Experience of Rural Natural Landscape among Youth Groups: An Empirical Analysis from Three Villages around Hefei
by Yanlong Guo, Pengyu Chen, Han Zhang and Zuoqing Jiang
Sustainability 2022, 14(23), 16298; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142316298 - 6 Dec 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1850
Abstract
Research on the perception and evaluation degree that the rural natural landscape plays an important role in improving rural sustainable development and construction. However, the views of young people, who play a key role in social development, on the natural landscape of the [...] Read more.
Research on the perception and evaluation degree that the rural natural landscape plays an important role in improving rural sustainable development and construction. However, the views of young people, who play a key role in social development, on the natural landscape of the countryside have been neglected. Based on the perspective of the rural natural landscape in China, this study combines the field research of Ma Ying, San Shi Gang, and Shen Fu villages around Hefei, Anhui Province, and constructs a perception and experience evaluation index and questionnaire of the rural natural landscape from four dimensions of rural landscape ecology, water environment, climate, and sound. Through the online questionnaire, 316 questionnaires were distributed to young people aged 18 to 35 years old, and 283 valid questionnaires were recovered with an effective recovery rate of 89.56%. The Cronbach coefficient was 0.954, and the KMO value was 0.968. The reliability and validity were good. The analytic hierarchy process (AHP) combined with the entropy method was used to calculate the weight of each index and analyze the influencing factors of young people’s perception evaluation of the rural landscape. Firstly, young people have a good perception of rural climate conditions, but the planning and layout of rural landscape ecology need to be improved. Secondly, sound comfort, air cleanliness, and landscape adaptation in a rural environment are the key factors that affect young people’s perception and experience of rural areas. Thirdly, improving the adaptability of the rural natural landscape to the local environment and the richness of vegetation is conducive to improving young people’s favorable understanding of the rural environment. Full article
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16 pages, 598 KiB  
Article
Adaptation to Climate Change Across Local Policies: An Investigation in Six Italian Cities
by Vittorio Serra, Antonio Ledda, Maria Grazia Gavina Ruiu, Giovanna Calia, Valentina Mereu, Valentina Bacciu, Serena Marras, Donatella Spano and Andrea De Montis
Sustainability 2022, 14(14), 8318; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14148318 - 7 Jul 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2938
Abstract
Climate change is a concerning phenomenon worldwide. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is the core of the mitigation strategies that are effective countermeasures to address a changing climate in the long term. Nevertheless, the need for short-term solutions regarding adaptation to climate [...] Read more.
Climate change is a concerning phenomenon worldwide. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is the core of the mitigation strategies that are effective countermeasures to address a changing climate in the long term. Nevertheless, the need for short-term solutions regarding adaptation to climate change (ACC) has gained growing interest in the scientific community and in European institutions. European and national ACC principles are being integrated in strategies and plans. In Italy, some regions have adopted ACC principles in strategic plans, which influence the whole local planning system and persuade local communities to become more climate-resilient. This study focuses on the mainstreaming of ACC into strategies, plans, programs, and projects (SPPPs) adopted by the following Italian cities: Bologna, Milan, Naples, Rome, Turin, and Venice. We scrutinize the contents of SPPPs with respect to four criteria: (i) references to strategies or plans for ACC; (ii) inclusion of ACC objectives and (iii) measures; and (iv) references to—or the inclusion of—climatic analysis on historical series and/or future projections. We found out that most SPPPs adopted by the cities have considered ACC in a promising way, i.e., all the cities are inclined to promote ACC, despite three of them lacking a municipal ACC strategy or plan and a National Adaptation Plan not being in force. Full article
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