Long-term patterns of change in a vanishing cultural landscape_ a GIS-based assessment.

Amici V., Maccherini S., Santi E., Torri D., Vergari F., Del Monte M.,, 2017, Long-term patterns of change in a vanishing cultural landscape_ a GIS-based assessment., Ecological informatics (Print) 37 (2017): 38–51. doi_10.1016/j.ecoinf.2016.11.008,
URL: http://www.cnr.it/prodotto/i/362883

The specific patterns of land use change that can be observed in many economically developed countries have fundamental implications on landscape structure and geomorphological processes. Areas characterized by widespread erosion such as badlands are often sensitive to anthropic modifications and of large interest in the analysis of the topographic determinants of land use change. This work aims to analyse the land use and landscape structure changes occurred in a Mediterranean landscape by analysing historical maps and infer the underlying processes that contribute to the pattern of change. First we carried out a comparative examination of three historical image datasets (1820, 1954, 2005) through overlay image processing and cross- classification analysis. Then we analysed the relationships between the detected land-use transformations and topographic parameters. Finally we determined the landscape structure change patterns through the use of GIS-based landscape metrics. The results showed how the study areas have experienced significant land use changes, mainly due to the abandonment of traditional rural systems. We found semi-natural areas distribution to be closely connected with terrain-shaping processes. The processes that underlie the multi-temporal landscape structure change have produced an overall increase of the landscape complexity. The work is one of the first attempts to use historical cartographic data to quantitatively assess changes in land use and landscape structure in the Mediterranean area. The proposed integrated methodology can support decision-making landscape planning and may represent a useful tool to define effective strategies for biodiversity conservation.

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