|Abstract: ||In its “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe”, the European Commission established an ambitious goal for the European Union, that of achieving no land take by 2050; a key milestone for the year 2020 was set accordingly, by establishing that in the programming period 2014-2020 European policies should take account of their impacts on land use (Communication of the EC to the European Parliament COM(2011) 571 of 20.9.2011).
“Land take” (or “land uptake”) is a Euro-English expression variously defined and associated to urban and other artificial land developments and to the loss of agriculture, forest and other natural or semi-natural land. It is a significant issue in the European Union (EU), as it amounted to approximately 1,000 km2 per year between 1990 and 2006, with an average yearly growth pace in the EU countries for this time period estimated at 0.5 percent by the European Environment Agency. At the National (Italian) level, a recent report produced by the Italian Superior Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA, 2015) shows that the amount of artificial land (that is, land “taken” by urban and other developments) has increased steadily, albeit with a slight decrease in pace in recent years, reaching 21,000 km2 (7.0%) in 2014. However, remarkable differences can be found across Italian NUTS2 Regions, as land take in Valle d’Aosta and in Trentino Alto Adige in 2013 amounted to around 2.0%, while in Lombardy, Veneto and Campania it exceeded 10%.
In two previous studies (Zoppi and Lai, 2014; 2015) we analysed what the main drivers of land take at the regional level are by means of GIS-based analyses coupled with regression models, by including a reasonably wide range of factors comprising physical drivers (such as, for instance, slope or size of the parcels being taken), planning drivers (such as, for example, the presence of regional and national parks) and social drivers (such as the population density). By building upon such studies, our goal in this paper is to focus on the role that the provisions of the Natura 2000 Network, which consists of Sites of Community Importance (SCIs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), and Special Protection Areas (SPAs), play in affecting land-taking processes by looking at the NUTS2 Italian region of Sardinia. The reason for this selection is that in Sardinia strict rules on land development have been enforced since 1993 through regional landscape plans, which have also singled out areas (especially coastal ones) in which new developments are almost completely forbidden; moreover, an extensive Natura 2000 Network, covering nearly 19% of the regional land mass, was set up in compliance with Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora and Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds.
The results and inferences of our study could be easily generalized to other EU regions, provided that similar geographic datasets are available. By shedding some light on the relation between land take on one hand and nature conservation and landscape protection on the other hand, it is possible to enhance regional planning policies to prevent or hinder land take processes, and, by doing so, to help implementing the EC recommendation on no net land take by 2050 into the EU regional policies.|