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Development of Integrated Web-Based Land Decision Support System Aiming Towards the Implementation of Policies for Agriculture and Environment

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - LANDSUPPORT (Development of Integrated Web-Based Land Decision Support System Aiming Towards the Implementation of Policies for Agriculture and Environment)

Reporting period: 2020-11-01 to 2022-04-30

Every second 1908 sqm of fertile soil is lost in the EU due to degradation by a wide range of human activities. With decisions that affect soil and land in the EU and beyond, being made based on incomplete data or lack of information, there is a danger that good soils could be lost forever. These decision-makers are numerous and range from farmers to policy-makers.
Despite the numerous good policies in the EU devoted to environmental sustainability, the issue of our environment continuously degrading is still pertaining as stated in many global, EU and national reports (e.g. SDGs, FAO and IPCC). There are many reasons behind this huge problem but we strongly believe that there is one that is typically overlooked: the lack of truly integrated operational tools to properly implement the above policies.
The mission of LANDSUPPORT is to provide an answer to such challenges by creating a free, web-based geospatial decision support system (S-DSS) that is accessible to anyone dealing with land and soil. The S-DSS consists of 15 different families of tools, each with a different focus, such as a tool on agriculture for farmers or tool on land take for spatial planners. LANDSUPPORT combines the variety and complexity of different platforms and datasets available into a unique platform to give the best and most efficient and sustainable support for informed decisions on land and soil. As human mankind cannot afford to steadily lose more natural resources, LANDSUPPORT strives to make a difference in stopping a trend of bad decisions affecting our nature and landscapes.
LANDSUPPORT includes the stakeholders in co-creation and co-development during the entire process. This active involvement ensured that the feedback gets addressed and the tools are designed in a way that they are of REAL support and information for the decision-makers.
Thus, LANDSUPPORT helps the society in preserving and safeguarding one of its most important natural resources: the soil and with it, the land.
Early on, SWOT analyses on various levels were carried out to identify the needs of different types of users, the stakeholders belonging to each field of application were continuously involved in LANDSUPPORT and their feedback was collected to tailor the tools to their specific requests.
On such bases, during the project lifetime a geospatial DSS was developed with more than 100 freely available web-based operational tools devoted to favouring the implementation of agriculture and environmental policies, to the responsible management and planning in agricultural systems, and to the promotion of rural areas.
The LANDSUPPORT tools connect databases and models and allow easy access to numerous multidisciplinary and multiscale information in a single system. The stakeholders are, in essence, anyone dealing with soil and land: from policy-makers who need to implement environmental policies, to farmers aiming at the rational use of environmental resources, and spatial planners who need to plan the land use wisely and effectively. Scenario analyses can be produced by simulating the impact on the environment of different types of actions in advance, both in terms of spatial planning and management of the agricultural sector. The ecotourism-related tools enhance the rural area and promote its economy, creating awareness to end-users for conscious and informed tourism.
The engagement of the different stakeholders was diversified with numerous technical workshops for public authorities, researchers, farmers, SMEs, while a Social Media Campaign was built for dissemination to the public.
During the last two years, more than 900 single users registered on our platform and exploited our system regularly (4,500 logins) obtaining maps, reports, tables, graphs to take informed decisions on agriculture, forestry, environmental protection, spatial planning, biodiversity and ecotourism.
Spring and winter schools were organized to engage young scientists (>150 attendees). A clustering event with 9 EU projects and initiatives of soil was organized to discuss synergies.
Everyday Earth Observation satellites produce a very huge amount of data (digital maps such as land use, geology, soil, biodiversity) while IoT and proximal sensors of precision agriculture producing high spatial/time resolutions maps. However, despite of the above there is a huge lack of operational system transforming all these data into systems enabling to support an informed decision making such as those required by individuals and bodies governing the rural landscape (e.g. farmers, organization, institution, municipalities, regions).
To that respect, LANDSUPPORT produced a very important progress through its 100+ tools.
For example, the "Land Take" family of tools is designed for spatial planners and for public authorities that deal with planning and management of the territory. The free availability of urban data is crucial to preserve the precious soil resource by obtaining important information for sustainable urban and rural planning.
In the agricultural field, tools for farmers and public authorities are designed to evaluate specific practices relating, for example, to pollutants or nitrate fate towards the groundwater or the change in soil organic carbon.
The operational tools in the ecotourism field create environmental, cultural and tourist information systems and allow SMEs and tourist guides to create differentiated offers favouring conscious and informed tourism and promoting the rural area and its economy.
Some additional examples for socio-economic impact, wider societal implications and uptake of the results are the following:
- 320 of the registered users are working in Public Authorities
- ISPRA, Italy has further implemented the results using the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for Italy
- Regione Campania administration is planning further implementation using the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for the Campania Region
- 1000 viticulture farmers in Telesina Valley obtained public funds from Campania Region based on LANDSUPPORT
- The land take tools are used by the Council of European Spatial Planners and the largest Urban Planning Association of Italy
- use of our tools by the Natural Park of Cilento
More than 200 users were interviewed last year and the final two key questions of the questionnaire:
- Does the LANDSUPPORT tool provide solutions for your issue?
- Is the obtained information (map, table) adequate in detail and in quality?
received very positive responses: “very much” and “excellent” qualifiers respectively at 71% and 84% of all questionnaires.