Analysis of the effects of agricultural land use change on rural environment and landscape through historical cartography and GIS tools

Submitted: 27 April 2015
Accepted: 19 December 2015
Published: 8 March 2016
Abstract Views: 5639
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The human activities and the social and economic transformations occurred during the last century led modifications in the agro-forestry areas. This paper shows a study case study in which the dynamics of land use are analysed using a geographic information system applied to historical maps in order to evaluate the consequences of these land transformations over the last 179 years on the rural environment and landscape. The use of three-dimensional reconstructions, obtained through the creation of different digital terrain model, has allowed to appreciate the landscape modifications, in term of morphological and vegetation variation, determining its aesthetic quality. The analysis shows a common dynamic present in many rural areas of Southern Italy, i.e., the increase of agricultural areas replacing forested surfaces in an older period followed by the further phenomenon of spontaneous re-naturalisation of many of these areas, due to the abandonment of extensive cultivated areas. Moreover, through comparison with historical documents, it was possible to analyse how the agricultural activities influenced the quality of the forest ecosystem. The methodology employed in this study allows a detailed analysis of the processes that occurred in different rural context and the creation of appropriate tools for sustainable land management.

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Statuto, D., Cillis, G. and Picuno, P. (2016) “Analysis of the effects of agricultural land use change on rural environment and landscape through historical cartography and GIS tools”, Journal of Agricultural Engineering, 47(1), pp. 28–39. doi: 10.4081/jae.2016.468.