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Assessing Landscape Health: A Case Study from Northeastern Italy

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This article investigates the concept of biophysical landscape health for what are termed “highly governed landscapes.” It proposes a definition of landscape health along with a preliminary diagnostic model and methods. The idea of landscape health derives from the emerging integrative science of ecosystem health, which seeks to diagnose ecosystem condition as humans diagnose human health. Highly governed landscapes, such as the reclaimed areas of coastal northeastern Italy, are landscapes that have been subject to even greater degrees of human manipulation than normal cultural landscapes. These highly altered landscapes are not easily served by existing environmental paradigms and concepts of health are seen to have numerous advantages. This paper condenses a broader investigation of landscape health into three main sections. A brief review of the literature is followed by a case study, which details two different phases of landscape transformation in the Lower Piave area of northeastern Italy. A definition and general parameters of biophysical landscape health are then presented after this background stage. Some key parameters of biophysical health include absence of distress and risk factors, sustainability, biodiversity, resilience, and balance. For certain parameters, a preliminary landscape health diagnostic framework is presented that includes potential diagnostic methods and thresholds based on findings from this case study. At the paper's conclusion, a summary diagnostic model is presented, which suggests a process needed to implement landscape health assessment into practice.

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BERTOLLO, P. Assessing Landscape Health: A Case Study from Northeastern Italy. Environmental Management 27, 349–365 (2001).

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