Towards a Conceptual Framework for Ecological Rationality in Spatial Planning

  • Carlo RegaEmail author
Part of the Cities and Nature book series (CITIES)


In this chapter, the insights from the previous chapters are synthesized and systematized in a conceptual framework for ecological rationality in spatial planning. At the centre of the framework, there is the landscape, upon which different drivers act at different scales. At a higher level, there are some main driving forces that determine identifiable general trends (megatrends). Sectoral and territorial policies (including spatial planning) in turn act on the landscape by mediating and modulating the effects of such drivers (contrasting, pandering them or a mix of the two) and driving territorial transformation themselves. Other elements of this frameworks comprise a knowledge base constituted by the integration of planning theories and methods, Land-Use Science and Political Ecology, in turn based on contribution from sectoral disciplines such as Natural Ecology (including Landscape Ecology as a sub-discipline), System Theory and the sets of social sciences dealing with mechanisms of social choices, institutions and political sciences. This knowledge base serves to inform planning both through enabling a better identification and understanding of the driving forces and to derive a set of guiding principles and criteria for ecological rationality in spatial planning. Such criteria, in turn, needs to be operationalized in planning practice into specific analytical tools and methodologies. In this chapter the first part of the framework is examined, i.e. the main driving forces underlying the processes of territorial transformation that are manifested and measurable. Two main analytical concepts are deployed to analyse and interpret the latter, i.e. the metabolic rift and the spatial fix. These concepts are elaborated and discussed as powerful analytics to interpret the main phenomena of landscape transformation in urban and rural areas: urbanization and suburbanization, agricultural intensification and abandonment of marginal agricultural areas.


Conceptual framework Driving forces Megatrends Metabolic rift Spatial fix 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ITERAS - Research Centre for Sustainability and Territorial InnovationBariItaly

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