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Abstract: The European Union, in the European Soil Thematic Strategy (EC. 2006a), recognises the need to improve the integration of measures to prevent soil consumption and degradation, in spatial planning and in those sector policies such as transport, tourism, commerce etc. that have a major influence on land use change. Indeed, there is a growing awareness at many territorial levels (Europe, Member States, Regions) of the problem of land consumption and its impact on environmental resources. Furthermore, it is recognised that one of the major drivers of land consumption is urban development, which in some areas of Europe, due to its sprawling nature, has higher impact in terms of energy and soil disturbance, than compact development. For a sustainable spatial planning, for the purposes of reducing the impact of new urban development, it is essential the knowledge of the many functions that soil performs such as biomass production, filtering, carbon pool, habitat support etc. and their spatial distribution. There is a need for spatial decision support tools and methods to allow the incorporation of soil information and the spatial knowledge of soil functions as part of planning decisions. In particular, for the purposes of soil conservation and soil management, it is recognised the high potential of spatial planning in order to limit soil loss, both in strategic environmental assessment and in plans. This paper presents an analytical approach to the problem of land consumption by urban development and its impacts on land resources with particular attention to soil resources. In the first part of this paper, trends in urban development are analysed for some regions of North Italy and for the provinces of the Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG) region. Then a land evaluation model developed within a GIS for assessing the performances of selected soil functions in the Pordenone area (FVG region) is presented and is applied to demonstrate its effectiveness/validity for assessing the impact of future urban development on the soil resource.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.