Can Strategic Spatial Planning Contribute to Land Degradation Reduction in Urban Regions? State of the Art and Future Research
AbstractLand degradation is becoming a serious environmental issue threatening fertile agricultural soils and other natural resources. There are many driving forces behind land degradation. The expansion of artificial surfaces due to various economic activities, such as housing, industry, and transport infrastructure, known as soil sealing, constitutes one of the most intensive forms of land degradation in urban regions.
Measures to halt and reverse land degradation require both strong land-use management policies, as well as effective spatial planning mechanisms. In this regard, strategic spatial planning has been increasingly practised in many urban regions worldwide, as a means to achieve sustainable land-use patterns and to guide the location of development and physical infrastructures.
It is reasonable, therefore, to expect that strategic spatial planning can counteract the outlined undesired land degradation effects, specifically those resulting from soil sealing. In this paper, we review strategic spatial planning literature published between 1992 and 2017.
The focus is on the phenomena causing land degradation that are addressed by strategic spatial planning literature, as well as on the mechanisms describing the role of strategic spatial planning in land degradation reduction. Results show that sustainable development and environmental concerns have become core objectives of strategic planning in recent years, yet references to the drivers of land degradation are rare.
The mechanisms that exist are mainly intended to address environmental issues in general, and are not aimed at reducing particular forms of land degradation. T
he paper concludes by sketching future research directions, intended to support strategic spatial planning and land-use policymaking related to coping with the global phenomenon of land degradation.