Landscape Diversity as a Screening Tool to Assess Agroecosystems Sustainability; Preliminary Study in Central Italy

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Roberto Crosti *
Vanna Forconi
Carmela Cascone
Francesco Visicchio
(*) Corresponding Author:
Roberto Crosti | mikimos@mac.com

Abstract

Modernization of agricultural activities has strongly modified agricultural landscapes. Intensive agriculture, with the increased use of inorganic fertiliser and density of livestock, affects water quality discharging nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in water bodies. Nutrients in rivers, subsequently, are excellent indicators to assess sustainability/ land-use intensity in agroecosystems. Landscape, however, is a dynamic system and is the product of interaction amongst the natural environment and human activities, including farming which is a main driving force. At present not much has been investigated on the predictive role of landscape on land-use intensity. Aim of this study is to determine if, in Italian agroecosystem, landscape complexity can be related to land-use intensity. Indexes of landscape complexity (i.e. edge density, number of patches, Shannon’s diversity index, Interspersion-Juxtaposition index) derived by processing Corine Land Cover data (level IV, 1:25.000) of Lazio Region, were related with landuse intensity (values of compounds of nitrogen and phosphorus and other parameters found in rivers monitored in accordance to European Directives on Waste Water). Results demonstrate that some landscape indexes were related to some environment parameters. Consequently landscape complexity, with further investigation, could be an efficient screening tool, at large scale, to assess water quality and ultimately agroecosystems sustainability in the absence of monitoring stations.

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