The soil is still under threat from urban sprawl. Small municipalities with little planning capacity and more easily accessible conurbations in particular are doing little to counter the issue. Researchers from the National Research Programme "Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource" (NRP 68) have analysed the reasons for this by surveying Swiss municipalities.
Since the 1950s, urban sprawl in Switzerland has been progressing virtually unchecked. The trend towards greater levels of soil consumption is expected to continue until the middle of this century, albeit at a slower pace.
A group of researchers led by Felix Kienast from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) has investigated this issue as part of the National Research Programme "Sustainable use of soil as a resource" (NRP 68). The aim was to investigate the causes behind urban sprawl.
Transport links favour urban sprawl
A statistical analysis of various available data sets for soil consumption and socio-economic development showed that urban sprawl and its impact on soil consumption cannot be adequately explained by population growth alone. Other developments have had a much more significant influence, such as the increase in single-occupant households.
In particular, a municipality's transport links favour urban sprawl. Multi-decade comparisons have shown that once a certain degree of urbanisation has been reached, the effect of good accessibility is reversed and it encourages consolidation. So at present, it is the relatively easily accessible, but not yet highly urbanised conurbations that are most affected by urban sprawl.
Almost 70% of Swiss municipalities completed a survey* on their spatial planning activities. As a result, the research team was able to analyse the applied planning instruments by canton, municipality size and type of municipality. This highlighted a strong connection to the size of the municipality.
Support in a planning association
In many small municipalities, Town Chancellors bear the administrative burden of planning activities. Larger municipalities often have an administrative department (for example, the building authority), which also handles planning activities, or they may even have a separate spatial planning department. Such municipalities are much better equipped to employ newer and more sophisticated planning instruments, such as special land use plans with urban planning requirements.
Since they are under significant settlement pressure, urban centres and conurbations enforce stricter planning measures than small and peripheral municipalities, for example, limiting low-density areas (estates with detached houses) or coordinating zoning with public transport provision. The more active of the small communities tend to focus on measures to prevent land grabbing or they apply very low usage figures that are intended to promote a compact residential area and consolidated conurbation development.
The analyses also illustrate that the municipalities should not be considered in isolation. Spatial planning measures and the development of a municipality always have a significant impact on surrounding municipalities. Researchers’ recommendations: Implementing instruments to combat urban sprawl to maximum effect requires a high level of regional coordination. Small municipalities with little planning capacity need professional support, for example, in the form of a planning association.
(*) Kaiser N. et al.: Raumplanung in den Schweizer Gemeinden: Ergebnisse einer Umfrage, WSL Berichte, Volume 42, 2016, ISSN 2296-3456 (download) http://www.wsl.ch/dienstleistungen/publikationen/pdf/15446.pdf
"Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource" (NRP 68)
The Swiss National Science Foundation has been mandated by the Federal Council to conduct the National Research Programme "Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource" (NRP 68). The aim is to compile knowledge about soil systems as well as evaluation instruments and strategies for dealing with soil for political decision-making purposes. The overall final recommendations of NRP 68 will be published in different syntheses reports starting from 2018.
Prof Felix Kienast
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL)
Phone: +41 (0)44 739 23 66
http://www.snf.ch/en/researchinFocus/newsroom/Pages/news-160614-press-release-th... Press release "The causes of soil consumption"
http://www.nfp68.ch/de NRP 68 "Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource"
http://p3.snf.ch/Project-142996 Project in the SNSF P3 research database
http://www.nfp68.ch/en/projects/key-aspect-4-geoinformation-and-governance/proje... NRP 68 urban sprawl project
https://twitter.com/snsf_ch SNSF on Twitter
Media Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine