RURAL LANDSCAPE MULTIFUNCTIONALITY: A GIS BASED APPROACH FOR ASSESSING AREAS CHARACTERISED BY ECOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS
AbstractThe concept of multifunctional agriculture refers to the idea that agriculture has many functions in addition to producing food and fiber, like environmental protection, landscape preservation, and rural employment. The UE Common agricultural policy substains multifunctionality in agriculture by rural development plans that provide relevant frameworks to integrate environmental aims into agriculture. Integration of environmental instances with socio economical development is an important element also in natural resources conservation strategies. Recently, a new view of the ecological network concept has been developed to produce a more multiobjective vision that defines the ecological network as a system of natural and/or semi-natural landscape elements, that is configured and managed with the objective of maintaining or restoring ecological functions, while also providing opportunities for the sustainable use of natural resources. The study refers to a method, based on the Geographical Information System (GIS), for assessing the ecological network model in a rural landscape, where human activities are involved. Two models were developed: the landscape model and the connectivity model. The application in the study area showed the capacity of models to identify strategic places for ecological functions. The results pointed out the natural values of the area (matching the protected areas) and the most favourable expected ways of connection, or interruptions, between suitable areas. Agricultural and woodland areas were the main land uses involved in the ecological network structure. The maps which have been obtained can be useful instruments in order to involve policy makers, and other stakeholders, in the decision process on land use planning. In this way, the ecological network model can be a useful instrument in order to give valuable knowledge about environmental functions of rural landscape and to show constraints and possibilities to change the landscape in the boundaries of sustainability.
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Copyright (c) 2012 Maurizia Sigura
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