Planning and Design for Sustainable Places Lab

 

Contact:

Davide Geneletti

via Mesiano, 77 I-38123 Trento, Italy

davide.geneletti@unitn.it

Phone: +39 0461 282685

 

   authors: 

 

L. Sallustio

 

V. Quatrini

 

D. Geneletti

 

P. Corona

 

M. Marchetti

 

   journal: 

 

Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 54:80-90

 

   links: 

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

 

Abstract

 

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 in 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.

 

 

   authors: 

   journal: 

 

Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 17(01)

 

   links: 

Research in Strategic Environmental Assessment needs to better address analytical methods

 

Abstract

 

One of the main gaps in current SEA research is the limited development of analytical methods to predict and assess environmental effects, which are tailored to plans, programmes and policies. The scientific literature is producing new standards and evidence-based conclusions on a number of issues that are potentially relevant for SEA, including health, land take, ecosystem fragmentation and energy needs and supply. However, research in SEA is hardly keeping the pace in terms of "translating" these findings into operational recommendations that can be applied in typical SEA contexts. As a result, the analytical content of SEA is often disappointingly low, and the assessment of impacts is still largely based on qualitative descriptions and general statements. Future research should be directed at innovating SEA methods, by promoting the use of appropriate spatially-explicit and (semi)quantitative approaches, which can be based on advances in relevant disciplines, and the increasing availability of data and technology.

 

 

   authors: 

 

M. Loro

 

E. Ortega

 

R. M. Arce

 

D. Geneletti

 

   journal: 

 

Landscape and Urban Planning, 139:149-162

 

   links: 

Ecological connectivity analysis to reduce the barrier effect of roads. An innovative graph-theory approach to define wildlife corridors with multiple paths and without bottlenecks

 

Abstract

 

Ecological connectivity studies should be performed as baseline studies to prevent ecosystem fragmentation during the planning phase of a linear transport infrastructure. A landscape can be simplified as a graph network of habitat patches (nodes) and wildlife corridors (links) that connect them. Our analysis focused on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L.), one of the large mammals most commonly hit by vehicles on the Spanish road network. We develop a network approach, implementing an iterative GIS methodology to obtain alternative corridors with comparable costs and without bottlenecks below a user-defined minimum width. This method enables the definition of the clearly delimited physical area of corridors according to a geometrical threshold width value, as well as multiple corridor connections for a pair of habitat patches. We compare the connectivity estimated with the least-cost path with our proposed methodology, observing even absence of significant differences at global scale, but not to local scale in our study area. Our results highlight the potential relative importance of each node habitat patch and corridor for the conservation of global connectivity. Finally, we discuss applications for locating habitat restoration as a compensatory measure and potential sites for wildlife crossings, creating new stepping stones and evaluating road layouts using the selected freeway as an example.

 

 

   authors: 

 

E. Ianni

 

D. Geneletti

 

M. Ciolli

 

   journal: 

 

Environmental Management, 56(1):144-156

 

   links: 

Revitalizing Traditional Ecological Knowledge: A Study in an Alpine Rural Community

 

Abstract

 

This study aims to contribute to the debate on the value and the role of ecological knowledge in modern conservation strategies, with reference to the results of a case study conducted in the community of Montagne, located within a World Heritage site in the Italian Alps. This community is a paradigmatic example of the multiple transformations experienced by cultural landscapes in Alpine areas under the influence of global change. This study seeks to understand whether ecological knowledge is still in place in the community, and what the relationship is between the knowledge transmission and land use and social changes that have occurred in recent decades. To that end, the community is described by identifying the key variables (social, institutional, and ecological) that have historically shaped the landscape and the future priorities of the residents. Forest expansion, the most significant change in land use in the last 60 years, is analyzed using aerial photos; changes in biodiversity-related knowledge in the community are quantified by analyzing the inter-generational differences in plant species recognition. Results are discussed in the context of the current situation of the Montagne community, and the recommendation is made that policies and actions to promote traditional ecological knowledge protection or recovery in Europe be viewed as an important part of the recovery of community sovereignty and vitality. Lastly, concrete actions that can be implemented in our case study are proposed.

 

 

   authors: 

   journal: 

 

Land Use Policy, 42:210-226

 

   links: 

How are climate change concerns addressed by spatial plans? An evaluation framework, and an application to Indian cities

 

Abstract

 

Addressing climate change issues require different response actions at various spatial scales. However, the incorporation of climate change issues in the form of agreement, framework and climate policies has tended to focus on international and national scale but lacking at local level. The spatial policies at local level, although not directly linked to climate change, if implemented effectively may become a viable policy instrument to mitigate and adapt to climate change issues. Policy makers at the local level have not explored these local policy options widely. Drawing from the case study in India, this paper aims at understanding how spatial plans in India are incorporating climate change issues and identifying potential gaps. Spatial plans across various cities in India were examined. The skeleton of the review framework is developed upon Moser and Loers (2008) work. To analyze these spatial plans 40 criteria were identified and divided into three components namely awareness, analysis and action. The results of this study show that the roles of spatial plan to integrate climate change issues at the city level in India are still limited. The overall performance of spatial plans shows that they have a low level of awareness, moderate level of analytical capability and limited action response to integrate climate change issues at local level. The result of the study identifies that spatial policies in various cities in India are still limited to physical and economic issues and undermine the issues of climate change. The majority of the sampled spatial plan failed to integrate climate change issues at various fronts of spatial policy process and required to recognize climate change as a critical issue among other issues. Finally the finding of this study creates a platform for discussion and decision making process on the potential aspects where climate change issues can become part of spatial planning policy.

 

 

   editor: 

 

F. Orsi

 

   publisher: 

 

Routledge Studies in Transport, Environment and Development

 

   links: 

Sustainable Transportation in Natural and Protected Areas

 

Description

 

Protected areas are at the centre of nature-based tourism, which is increasingly popular across the world. As visitor numbers increase, so does awareness of the harmful effects that large crowds may have on both natural resources and individuals’ recreational experience. This volume considers the challenge of transportation to and within natural and protected areas, the improvement of which has already been recognised as having great potential for mitigating the environmental impacts of ecotourism.

While several books have focused considerable attention to the management of protected areas in general, little has been said about the specific issue of sustainable transport, an emerging trend that is already reshaping visitation patterns in natural settings. This book provides current knowledge on issues associated with the transportation of visitors in natural and protected areas, and a comprehensive overview of the technical and strategic options available to tackle these issues.

It approaches the subject via three main topics: preferences, or the visitors' attitudes towards transportation; practices, where current approaches are assessed through examples and case-studies of successful experiences and methodologies from around the world; and policies, where suggestions and recommendations are put forward for both local scale strategies and broad-scale regulatory action with global relevance. Contributors include academics in the field of natural resource management and tourism, with extensive experience in protected area management and active partnerships with natural park administrations.

 

   authors: 

 

L. Lamorgese

 

D. Geneletti

 

M.R. Partidario

 

   journal: 

 

Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 17(02)

 

   links: 

Reviewing Strategic Environmental Assessment Practice in the Oil and Gas Sector

 

Abstract

 

The exploitation of oil and gas resources poses several challenges to sustainability. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is broadly recognised as an important instrument to promote sustainability-driven decision-making. This paper aims at exploring to what extent current SEA processes for the oil and gas contribute, procedurally and substantively, to more strategic and sustainability-oriented decisions. To this purpose, we developed a framework for reviewing SEA reports, based on the strategic thinking model for SEA. The framework covers focal elements for enhancing SEA practice and it is structured into nine assessment parameters (object of assessment, entry point, interactivity, scope of assessment, strategic reference framework, process, participation, findings/outcomes, proposal for follow-up), and corresponding key questions. The framework was used to review 11 SEA reports related to both offshore and onshore oil and gas developments. The case studies are in different geographical contexts, and reflect examples of the broad range of SEA procedures existing worldwide. Our review provided evidences of those SEA aspects that play a crucial role in order to recognise more targeted and strategic information on which analysis should be based. This can provide substantive insights to improve the quality of SEA reports, as well as to better design more sustainability-oriented outcomes in the oil and gas sector. In particular, additional attention should be paid to stakeholders involvement from early stage of the procedures; identification of key environmental, social and economic factors; analysis of cumulative and synergistic effects in the long-run; fact-based provisions and recommendations for more integrated mitigation and monitoring management strategies for follow up.

 

 

   authors: 

 

M. Carolli

 

D. Vanzo

 

A. Siviglia

 

G. Zolezzi

 

M.C. Bruno

 

K. Alfredsen

 

   journal: 

 

Aquatic Sciences

 

   links: 

A simple procedure for the assessment of hydropeaking flow alterations applied to several European streams

 

Abstract

 

Release of water from storage hydropower plants generates rapid flow and stage fluctuations (hydropeaking) in the receiving water bodies at a variety of sub-daily time-scales. In this paper we present an approach to quantify such variations, which is easy to apply, requires stream flow data at a readily available resolution, and allows for the comparison of hydropeaking flow alteration amongst several gauged stations. Hydropeaking flow alteration is quantified by adopting a rigorous statistical approach and using two indicators related to flow magnitude and rate of change. We utilised a comprehensive stream-flow dataset of 105 gauging stations from Italy, Switzerland and Norway to develop our method. Firstly, we used a GIS approach to objectively assign the stations to one of two groups: gauges with an upstream water release from hydropower plants (peaked group) and without upstream releases (unpeaked group). Secondly, we used the datasets of the unpeaked group to calculate one threshold for each of the two indicators. Thresholds defined three different classes: absent or low pressure, medium, and high pressure, and all stations were classified according to these pressure levels. Thirdly, we showed that the thresholds can change, depending on the country dataset, the year chosen for the analysis, the number of gauging stations, and the temporal resolution of the dataset, but the outcome of the classification remains the same. Hence, the classification method we propose can be considered very robust since it is almost insensitive to the hydropeaking thresholds variability. Therefore, the method is broadly applicable to procedures for the evaluation of flow regime alterations and classification of river hydromorphological quality, and may help to guide river restoration actions.

 

 

   authors: 

 

M. Loro

 

E. Ortega

 

R.M. Arce

 

D. Geneletti

 

   journal: 

 

Landscape and Ecological Engineering

 

   links: 

Assessing landscape resistance to roe deer dispersal using fuzzy set theory and multicriteria analysis: a case study in Central Spain

 

Abstract

 

The central Iberian Peninsula has one of the highest densities of roe deer populations in Spain. A new motorway is planned to pass through the middle of the distribution of roe deer, thus making it necessary to conduct a connectivity analysis. A map of resistance to roe deer dispersal movements was obtained based on the literature and expert judgment. Three factors were selected: land use (defined by the ability to hide movements, food source, and degree of naturalness), landforms, and influence due to proximity to elements that increase (such as roads and urban areas) or decrease (water resources and proximity to optimal habitat patches) resistance at the local level. Different combinations of factors derived using the analytical hierarchy and fuzzy logic processes were analysed and compared with the real distribution of the species. More realistic resistance (cost) values were obtained for gamma values close to 0.9. This highlights the greater predominance of the fuzzy sum over the fuzzy product in modelling the cost surface. Better results were obtained in scenarios where the predominant factors were either land use and landforms or land use and proximity to human-modified areas. This indicates that roe deer will readily range far from their optimal patches if the land use provides partial cover. These movements appear to be conditioned by steep terrain. Our case study offers a good example of building a cost resistance matrix to help locate areas where the expansion of the species may be curbed or encouraged.

 

 

   authors: 

   journal: 

 

Land Use Policy

 

   links: 

Ecosystem-based adaptation in cities: an analysis of European climate adaptation plans

 

Abstract

 

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) measures have been increasingly promoted in the literature, as well as in policies and practices, for their environmental and socio-economic co-benefits. The recent scientific literature has shown a growing interest to assess climate adaptation plans at the urban level, in recognition of the important role played by urban areas in addressing climate change challenges. However, little information is available on the combination of these two issues, i.e., the actual inclusion of EbA measures in climate adaptation plans at the urban level. This paper addresses this gap by developing a framework to analyze the treatment of EbA in urban level climate planning, and apply it to a sample of climate adaptation plans in Europe. The framework consists of a classification of EbA measures, and a scoring system to evaluate how well they are reflected in different components of the plans. The results suggest that there is in general good awareness in plans of EbA measures, and of their potential role in addressing climate change challenges. However, their treatment in climate adaptation plans at the urban level often lacks sufficient baseline information, as well as convincing implementation actions. The paper concludes by offering recommendations to improve future practice, in terms of enhancing the baseline information to improve the proposal and design of EbA measures, improving the treatment of co-benefits associated to EbA measures, and strengthening coordination with other planning tools. Possible future development of this works include the integration of the proposed EbA classification, and the analysis of a larger sample of territorial plans.

 

Graphic abstract

 

 

   authors: 

 

L. Mandle

 

B. P. Bryant

 

M. Ruckelshaus

 

D. Geneletti

 

J. M. Kiesecker

 

A. Pfaff

 

   journal: 

 

Conservation Letters

 

   links: 

Enty points for considering ecosystem services within infrastructure planning

 

Abstract

 

New infrastructure is needed globally to support economic development and improve human well-being. Investments that do not consider ecosystem services (ES) can eliminate these important societal benefits from nature, undermining the development benefits infrastructure is intended to provide. Such tradeoffs are acknowledged conceptually but in practice have rarely been considered in infrastructure planning. Taking road investments as one important case, here we examine where and what forms of ES information have the potential to meaningfully influence decisions by multilateral development banks (MDBs). Across the stages of a typical road development process, we identify where and how ES information could be integrated, likely barriers to the use of available ES information, and key opportunities to shift incentives and thereby practice. We believe inclusion of ES information is likely to provide the greatest development benefit in early stages of infrastructure decisions. Those strategic planning stages are typically guided by in-country processes, with MDBs playing a supporting role, making it critical to express the ES consequences of infrastructure development using metrics relevant to government decision makers. This approach requires additional evidence of the in-country benefits of cross-sector strategic planning and more tools to lower barriers to quantifying these benefits and facilitating ES inclusion.

 

 

   authors: 

   journal: 

 

Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 17(04):1550035

 

   links: 

A Conceptual Approach to Promote the Integration of Ecosystem Services in Strategic Environmental Assessment

 

Abstract

 

There is a growing interest in the potential of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) to mainstream ecosystem services (ES) concerns in decision-making. Experiences in this field have begun to emerge, showing the need for comprehensive guidance. This paper addresses this need by proposing a conceptual approach to integrate ES effectively in SEA. The approach is structured in the following four stages, each comprising specific tasks: establish the ES context; determine and assess priority ES; identify alternatives and assess impacts on ES; follow up on ES. The first stage includes the identification and mapping of ES and beneficiaries for the region affected by the strategic action and the identification of links with other strategic actions. The second stage aims at generating detailed information on a limited set of priority ES, which are considered relevant for shaping and informing the development of the strategic action. This requires determining the priority ES, reviewing existing regulations concerning these services and assessing their baseline conditions and trends. In the third stage, possible alternatives to enhance ES, or at least to minimise negative effects on them, are identified and their impacts assessed. Finally, during the fourth stage, the effects on ES are monitored and managed and the overall quality of the SEA process is tested. The paper concludes by discussing how the stages and their tasks require feedback and interactions and how they can contribute to achieve a better inclusion of concerns about ES (and their beneficiaries) into strategic decisions.