FOSS4G 2022 academic track

Multiobjective analysis of open areas invaded by forest with open source software: the case of the SATURN project
2022-08-24, 17:15–17:45 (Europe/Rome), Room Modulo 3

In northern Italian mountainous regions, forests are invading pastures and abandoned cultivated surfaces leading to an important land-use change phenomenon and reducing those open areas that are fundamental for ecological purposes [1].
The research here presented, focuses on a multiobjective and contemporary assessment methodology of two or more multicriteria analyses applied in the identification of the most suitable areas for agricultural purposes between those surfaces that have been invaded by forests carried out using Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) software. The analysis of the areas was determined by taking into account their intrinsic characteristics and their spatial location in relation to the territory and started from previous studies on land use in the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy). The pilot areas are three municipalities that are part of Trento’s Province: the municipality of Trento - the Province’s capital, the municipality of Pergine Valsugana and seven municipalities that are part of the Piana Rotaliana region. Almost 88% of the Municipalities are located at an altitude of more than 600 m above sea level reflecting the peculiar topography of the province made up of valleys and high mountains with high percentages of steep slopes [2]. In Trento, the overall density is 742 inhabitants per square kilometers and the pressure on urban and peri-urban areas is nine times higher than the rest of the province [51]. 20% of Trento’s territory is classified as agricultural and 50% as forest or pasture land. About 70% of the territory is covered by silvopastoral -agricultural areas, the remaining 30% is categorized as urban. The repartition of the province’s surface is similar to the one of the city of Trento: 61% of the territory is covered by forests, 33.6% by agricultural areas, and only 5% by other types of land use. Collective bodies and public actors manage most of these silvopastoral -agro-forestal areas whose ownership is collective and is managed following the “uso civico” rights, a customary right embedded within the properties of communities and villages [52]. Therefore, profit is not their main aim.
This study has been part of the SATURN European project [3] funded by EIT Climate-KIC (November 2018-December 2021). Three city-regions have been involved: the Trentino region in Italy, Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and Gotheborg in Sweden. The project aimed to reintegrate natural resources into cities' climate change adaptation strategies and to expand and nurture its model by creating a broader initiative involving an increasing number of stakeholders. Geospatial data set was georeferenced and managed with GRASS and QGIS and the files were collected combining data freely available at the Autonomous Province of Trento as well as self produced during the project.
The comparative analysis and methodology were carried out by means of QGIS 3.8 Geographic Information System that has been used to complete the analysis in order to develop a methodology that can be widely used by territorial operators and Public Administrations.
Through a series of multi-criteria analyses [4] of the agricultural and ecological vocation of a given region, and more specifically of abandoned agricultural areas, it was possible to create initial maps assigning values according to specific considered aspects. To lead these analyses, it was necessary to collect and select a significant amount of georeferenced data and then standardise them. Synthesis analyses have been useful to compare the ecological and agricultural aspects and to integrate them in synthesis maps, which can be used in the future for land management and planning.
In order to validate the model and to verify the results, on-site inspections were carried out both in Valsugana and in Val d'Adige.
Technicians and experts have been involved in the research through focus groups, organised within the SATURN project, which allowed some general criticalities of the territory to emerge, and through the completion of a questionnaire proposed within the thesis work. Through these questionnaires, it has been possible to identify the most important criteria for assessing a plot of land from an ecological and agricultural point of view.
The obtained results showed how the classical approach, based on single criteria analysis, differ from the multicriteria approach for its potential to produce a more precise and clearer classification output of the aspects considered, showing the two multi-criteria analyses and their dependence on a single final map. Significant advantages have been taken from the use of this method in terms of data and information exchange between the stakeholders and in terms of a deepen understanding of the characteristics of the areas that have been analysed.
The proposed methodology and the script that has been developed can be used in order to better plan forest management and as a basis for future territorial plans.
Moreover, the multicriteria approach, which initially provides for a separate analysis of the research layers and then integrates them into a single final output, may represent a starting point for ecosystem evaluations. Preserving the ecosystem of an area, or rather the mosaic of ecosystems that make it up, is in fact of fundamental importance, as is succeeding in creating an eco-sustainable environment. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to have a spatial planning process that is as accurate as possible and that evaluates all the ecological criteria in a diversified manner with respect to the criteria of the object of research, so as to be able to identify key elements.
The model presented can be replicated by changing the current research object, i.e. agricultural assessment, and keeping the ecological assessment instead.
Future development will foresee the transformation of the Python script into a plug-in for Qgis, guaranteeing greater functionality for those who wish to use it.

Angelica Pianegonda is an architect and engineer and currently is a PhD Student at the University of Trento (Department of Civil Environmental and Mechanical Engineering) where she also graduated in Building Engineer and Architecture (2019). She has been Research Fellow (2019-2021) at the same Department, working on the European project EIT Climate-KIC SATURN (2019-2021). She attended the 1st level International Master "Food City Design" at the University of Parma, collaborating with Fondazione Lombardia per l’Ambiente as part of the thesis project (2021). During 2020 she was coordinator of the “Nutrire Trento #fase2” project and of the European Solidarity Corps “Controcorrente” project. Since 2020 she has been a member of the Secretariat “Rete Italiana Politiche Locali del Cibo”. Her research explores the creation of an ecological network through food landscapes.