Analysis of Time Evolution of Agroforestry Land as a Tool for the Sustainable Management and Planning of Rural Land andEnvironment

From the analysis of land-use evolution that was here performed, it can be noticed how, during the investigated time spans of about 160 years, the land used for agricultural production has progressively decreased, to the benefit of the natural areas that have in the meantime expanded, occupying most of the area lost by the former. This phenomenon was probably due to the constant increase of agricultural mechanization and diffusion of chemical products into intensive agriculture, which led many traditional farmers to abandon their estates and to consequently transfer into the urban area. Thus, this phenomenon has allowed a natural vegetation to grow over the years, spontaneously covering areas that were cultivated in the past. The increase in urbanization is the result of the development of this territory, but its expansion without a proper development policy has facilitated the proliferation of residential areas with the consequent abandonment and fragmentation of the rural territory and its landscape.

An appropriate environmental approach could also be revealed to be useful if focused on the balance of carbon dioxide fixation connected to different crop strategies. All the land changes detected in the study area have caused a progressive decrease in carbon dioxide sequestered by the biotic agents embedded in the soil. The cultivation conversion occurred over time and the increase of urban areas caused a consequent constant loss of the CO2 fixation value, while the heavy emission of greenhouse effect gas in the atmosphere by urban settlements has been increasing at the same time (Statuto et al. 2013).

Considering the elevation profiles obtained, it is possible to observe that the altimetry data relating to 1877 was consistently higher than for later periods. The profiles obtained from the elevations of 1953 and 2012 are very similar to each other, so it is possible to attribute the differences to the presence of small rivers that, over the years, have had a deepening of their beds. This situation is typical of the whole area of the Apennines, since it is connected to a strong hydrogeological instability.

The landscape analysis using the three-dimensional modeling allowed the evaluation of the simultaneous changes both in land use and in the morphological variations that involve landscape modification. Figure 3 shows that a great part of the territory has significantly changed: some of the areas that in 1877 were covered by forests have, over the years, turned into arable land, so determining a clear change in the visual quality of the rural landscape.

The analysis that was performed over the three-dimensional images of the territory has been revealed to be a powerful means of interpretation, since it allows some dynamic effects to be created in a virtual reality system, in which the operator has the opportunity to navigate as walking or flying over the area at that time; thus, the operator is able to visit—with a virtual jump back in time enabled by the simulation of an ante litteram flight—real-life scenarios that would be otherwise difficult to imagine and/or reach. Then, all the aspects characterizing that area can be examined in suitable detail and completeness, starting from the analysis of topography and land cover and leading to anthropic components (buildings, roads, and railways, hydraulic infrastructure such as dams, aqueducts, etc.).

 
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