Land use inventories are sound measures to provide information on the area occupied by different land use or land cover types and their changes, although less widespread than traditional mapping; as such, they are distinctively well-established tools for generating statistics on the state and the dynamics of land use in the European Union. Italy has recently set up a land use inventory system (IUTI) as a key instrument for accounting removals and emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) associated to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities elected by Italy under the Kyoto Protocol. IUTI adopts a statistical sampling procedure to estimate the area covered by LULUCF land use categories in Italy, and associated uncertainty estimates. Estimates of land use have been so far processed for the period 1990-2008 and highlight three interlinked land use change patterns in Italy: (i) increase in forest land for a total uptake of 1.7% of the Italian territory; forest cover estimates, with a standard error of 0.1%, indicate an annual increase of forestland higher over the period 1990-2000 (32 901 ha year-1) than in 2000-2008 (22 857 ha year-1); surprisingly, also a significant deforestation rate is observed (-7000 ha year-1), due to forest land conversion mainly into artificial areas; (ii) consumption of arable land (-4.2% of the Italian territory) primarily due to land uptake by urban areas and to conversions to permanent crops (mainly orchards and vineyards); (iii) urban sprawl uptakes 1.6% of the Italian territory in this period, with a total coverage of settlements reaching 7.1% of total land surface in Italy in 2008. Overall, land use dynamic results in land uptake by forest land is of the same magnitude of land uptake by urban areas, but the effects of these processes on GHG removals (by forest sinks) and emissions (by urban areas) is expected to be significantly different. In a broader perspective, IUTI methodology, by providing reliable estimates and well-defined levels of statistical uncertainty for assessing stocks and flows of land use at national level, can be further implemented to frame other key questions for sustainable development policies, like the set up of environmental-economic accounting systems.
Authors and Publishers
The Italian Society of Silviculture and Forest Ecology (Italian: Società Italiana di Selvicoltura ed Ecologia Forestale, or SISEF), established in 1995, is a non-profit cultural association promoting the diffusion of scientific forest culture in Italy, and all over the world.
SISEF mission is to promote researches on: