Land mosaic naturalness evaluation: a proposal for European landscapes

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The present work proposes a criterion to classify landscape into naturalness systems using four levels of conservation: High naturalness, Semi-natural, Agricultural, Artificial. As a case study Sicily (Italy) was chosen. The methodology has been applied to reclassify Corine Land Cover data and obtain a Naturalness map. The area of study has been divided into reference units; these land units are the result of the overlay of the bioclimatic map and of the geomorphologic map. A new index to evaluate landscape naturalness and conservation is proposed, which has been calculated for each land unit. The highest value is located on the Nebrodi Mountains, a Regional Park where extensive beech woods are present and human activities are restricted. Very high values are correspondent to Mount Etna land systems (another Regional Park), the Ficuzza area and the Madonie Mountains (yet another Regional Park and a biodiversity hotspot). As expected, lowest values correspond to extensive urban areas and to industrial complexes. Agricultural landscape, widespread in Sicily, is almost always present in those land units whose values are in the mid-low range. The index has proved to be very useful for visualising the state of conservation and giving a general idea of human activity; it has been tested on Sicily, but could be applied to the entire European territory.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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