Inappropriate agricultural practices, concentration of the human population, climate change as well as land use/land cover change limit, or totally inhibit, environmental equilibrium.
Comparing population and settlement dynamics in several Italian municipalities, some typical features of Italy’s recent urbanisation emerge: until the mid-1970s, settlement development trends followed demographic growth. From the mid-1970s, the two dynamics diverged as population growth fell to zero almost everywhere. By contrast, urban sprawl continued to increase steadily.
Urbanisation in coastal areas also plays a particularly important role because of the physical conformity of the country. In Italy, about 30 % of the population lives in 642 municipalities along the coastline, without taking into account seasonal and tourist flows. In the last decades, Italian coasts – more than 8,000 km – underwent a strong anthropisation process; in many cases, changed natural and environmental features.
Contaminated sites are another critical issue. In Italy, there are currently 57 Contaminated Sites of National Interest, for which recovery efforts are being coordinated directly by the Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea. Furthermore, regional authorities have the responsibility over around 15 000 potentially contaminated sites, 4 000 of which need to be reclaimed.
Reclamation of brownfields, abandoned, inactive or underused sites that once hosted productive, generally industrial or commercial, facilities, is hindered by past pollution, either real or potential.
Mining activities have been scaled back considerably, though problems related to abandoned sites remain unsolved. At present, only 194 mines are actually in operation. Throughout Italy, approximately 5.650 quarries are active, with more than 60 % involving the extraction of clay, sand, gravel and limestone. It is not possible to provide an overview of the abandoned or unauthorised sites.
For a detailed treatment of topics addressed above, see key topics at
[Commonality topics] land
[COMMONALITY] What are the related drivers and pressures?