Integrating emergy evaluation and geographic information systems for monitoring resource use in the Abruzzo region (Italy)

  • Pulselli R
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Abstract

This paper presents an application of an environmental accounting method, namely emergy evaluation, developed for the monitoring and assessment of environmental resource use by local communities in the Abruzzo Region (Italy). Once quantified and classified according to their origin (renewable or non-renewable, local or external), emergy flows were elaborated through a geographic information system (GIS) that allowed us to represent their spatial distribution throughout the region. Outcomes took the form of patterns in which different emergy intensities, namely empower (unit: seJ yr-1), were represented through a graduated grey-scale and visualized on a cartographic basis. The concentration of emergy flows, depending on the activity of local communities, showed variable levels of environmental load in different areas. In particular, spatial zones with homogeneous values of empower density (unit: seJ yr-1km-2) - high, medium and low - were detected in order to identify areas with a similar "thermodynamic" nature, emergy being a thermodynamics based function. This allowed for the representation, at a glance, of a kind of geography that mirrors the behavior of a population settled in an area as additional information for investigating the effects of the use of urban structures and functions and improving our understanding of regional systems. A combined use of emergy evaluation and GIS could thus provide a complementary view of a territorial system and inform policy makers for planning specific strategies of future development. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Empower
  • Environmental accounting
  • Land use
  • Regional studies
  • Territorial systems
  • Thermodynamics

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Authors

  • Riccardo Maria Pulselli

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