, Volume 108, Issue 1-3, pp 323-335

Landscape Change and Ecosystem Classification in a Municipal District of a Small City (Isernia, Central Italy)

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Landscape changes taking place from 1954 to 1992 in the muncipal district of Isernia city (Central Italy) were described in relation to a system of ecosystem classification. Isernia municipal district was selected for study because recent historic changes in this area represent a typical example of landscape transformation similar to many small cities of Italy and other Mediterranean countries. To assess overall changes, three land cover maps (scale 1:25,000) were derived from panchromatic aerial photographs and field surveys. These were then digitalised in a Geographic Information System. A Land Facet (LF) map was derived by combining a phytoclimatic, a lithostatigrafic and a topographic map, and then digitalised as data layers in the same GIS. Results demonstrated two main landscape transformation trends: forest and semi-natural areas increased (8%), whereas agricultural areas decreased (12%). The urban area was relatively small during the entire analysed period, growing from 1% in 1954, to just 5% in 1992. Forest coverage was significant on reliefs, on hillside ecosystems such as limestone and on clay and marl hills LF. Arable land was particularly significant in flat ecosystems with deeper soils, such as on recent alluvial plain LF. These temporal changes were interpreted as being related to the replacement of traditional farming methods (grazing pastures) with more intensive methods (crop fields), especially on alluvial plains.