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Title: Assessing land take by urban development and its impact on carbon storage: Findings from two case studies in Italy

Highlights: • We tested a new methodology for monitoring land take and its effects on C storage. • The ecological impact of urban growth derives from the previous land use. • C loss increases with the naturalness of the territory. • Different urban assets may imply different forms of land take containment. Land take due to urbanization triggers a series of negative environmental impacts with direct effects on quality of life for people living in cities. Changes in ecosystem services are associated with land take, among which is the immediate C loss due to land use conversion. Land use change monitoring represents the first step in quantifying land take and its drivers and impacts. To this end, we propose an innovative methodology for monitoring land take and its effects on ecosystem services (in particular, C loss) under multi-scale contexts. The devised approach was tested in two areas with similar sizes, but different land take levels during the time-span 1990–2008 in Central Italy (the Province of Rome and the Molise Region). The estimates of total coverage of built up areas were calculated using point sampling. The area of the urban patches including each sampling point classified as built up areas inmore » the year 1990 and/or in the year 2008 is used to estimate total abundance and average area of built up areas. Biophysical and economic values for carbon loss associated with land take were calculated using InVEST. Although land take was 7–8 times higher in the Province of Rome (from 15.1% in 1990 to 20.4% in 2008) than in Molise region, our findings show that its relative impact on C storage is higher in the latter, where the urban growth consistently affects not only croplands but also semi-natural land uses such as grasslands and other wooded lands. The total C loss due to land take has been estimated in 1.6 million Mg C, corresponding to almost 355 million €. Finally, the paper discusses the main characteristics of urban growth and their ecological impact leading to risks and challenges for future urban planning and land use policies.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [1]
  1. Dipartimento di Bioscienze e Territorio (DiBT), Università del Molise, C. da Fonte Lappone, I-86090 Isernia (Italy)
  2. Dipartimento per l'Innovazione nei sistemi Biologici, Agroalimentari e Forestali (DIBAF), Università della Tuscia, v. San Camillo de Lellis, I-01100 Viterbo (Italy)
  3. Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, Via Mesiano 77, 38123 Trento (Italy)
  4. Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria, Forestry Research Centre (CRA-SEL), Viale S. Margherita 80, 52100 Arezzo (Italy)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 54; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2015 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States