Soil ecosystem services assessment to support land use planning - applications in Italy and a reflection for the future

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The ecosystem services assessment (ESA) has an increasing visibility and more recently soil-related ecosystem services are under attention. Loss of agriculture and natural soil due to land consumption is one of the main causes of degradation of soil and loss of ecosystem functions. Decisions upon land use and cover at local scale are the arena to effectively foster soil ecosystem services provision. While there is some coherence in global and national ESA, the experience in land use planning is still fragmented. The discussion moves from the experience of national ESA in Italy, measuring variations in eleven soil-related ecosystem services (carbon storage and sequestration, habitat quality, crop production, timber production, pollination, hydrological cycle regulation, fresh water availability, water purification, erosion protection, microclimate regulation, particulate and ozone removal) related to 2012-2017 land consumption changes. The aim is to highlight the barriers and opportunities for integration in land use planning, and to provide critical suggestions around the potential role of ecosystem service knowledge at different levels. Results point out potentials of the ESA in representation of soil functions, together with methodological and procedural uncertainty that makes ESA potentially prone to improper uses and misleading results, in the absence of a common framework for application. Keywords: land consumption, soil functions, ecosystem services, land use planning
Planning for Transition – book of proceedings 31; 2