iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Land use inventory as framework for environmental accounting: an application in Italy

P Corona (1), A Barbati (1), A Tomao (1), R Bertani (2), R Valentini (1), M Marchetti (3), L Fattorini (4), L Perugini (1)   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 204-209 (2012)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor0625-005
Published: Aug 12, 2012 - Copyright © 2012 SISEF

Research Articles

Land use inventories are sound measures to provide information on the area occupied by different land use or land cover types and their changes, although less widespread than traditional mapping; as such, they are distinctively well-established tools for generating statistics on the state and the dynamics of land use in the European Union. Italy has recently set up a land use inventory system (IUTI) as a key instrument for accounting removals and emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) associated to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities elected by Italy under the Kyoto Protocol. IUTI adopts a statistical sampling procedure to estimate the area covered by LULUCF land use categories in Italy, and associated uncertainty estimates. Estimates of land use have been so far processed for the period 1990-2008 and highlight three interlinked land use change patterns in Italy: (i) increase in forest land for a total uptake of 1.7% of the Italian territory; forest cover estimates, with a standard error of 0.1%, indicate an annual increase of forestland higher over the period 1990-2000 (32 901 ha year-1) than in 2000-2008 (22 857 ha year-1); surprisingly, also a significant deforestation rate is observed (-7000 ha year-1), due to forest land conversion mainly into artificial areas; (ii) consumption of arable land (-4.2% of the Italian territory) primarily due to land uptake by urban areas and to conversions to permanent crops (mainly orchards and vineyards); (iii) urban sprawl uptakes 1.6% of the Italian territory in this period, with a total coverage of settlements reaching 7.1% of total land surface in Italy in 2008. Overall, land use dynamic results in land uptake by forest land is of the same magnitude of land uptake by urban areas, but the effects of these processes on GHG removals (by forest sinks) and emissions (by urban areas) is expected to be significantly different. In a broader perspective, IUTI methodology, by providing reliable estimates and well-defined levels of statistical uncertainty for assessing stocks and flows of land use at national level, can be further implemented to frame other key questions for sustainable development policies, like the set up of environmental-economic accounting systems.


Land Use Survey, Land Use Change, Statistical Sampling, Forest, Environmental Accounting

Authors’ address

P Corona
A Barbati
A Tomao
R Valentini
L Perugini
Dipartimento per l’Innovazione nei sistemi Biologici, Agroalimentari e Forestali (DIBAF), Università della Tuscia, v. San Camillo de Lellis, s.n.c. , I-01100 Viterbo (Italy)
R Bertani
R.D.M. Progetti S.R.L. v. Maragliano 31/A, I-50144 Firenze (Italy)
M Marchetti
Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie per l’Ambiente e il Territorio (DISTAT), Università del Molise, C.da Fonte Lappone, I-86090 Pesche, IS (Italy)
L Fattorini
Dipartimento di Economia Politica e Statistica, Università di Siena, p.za S. Francesco 8, I-53100 Siena (Italy)

Corresponding author

L Perugini


Corona P, Barbati A, Tomao A, Bertani R, Valentini R, Marchetti M, Fattorini L, Perugini L (2012). Land use inventory as framework for environmental accounting: an application in Italy. iForest 5: 204-209. - doi: 10.3832/ifor0625-005

Academic Editor

Renzo Motta

Paper history

Received: Mar 30, 2012
Accepted: Jul 01, 2012

First online: Aug 12, 2012
Publication Date: Aug 29, 2012
Publication Time: 1.40 months

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