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Revisiting the ‘southern mood’? Post-crisis Mediterranean urbanities between economic downturns and land-use change

Antonio Tomao, Giovanni Quaranta, Rosanna Salvia, Sabato Vinci and Luca Salvati

Land Use Policy, 2021, vol. 111, issue C

Abstract: Economic downturns have shaped the intrinsic mechanisms underlying urban expansion worldwide. Despite strength and pervasiveness of recent recessions, empirical results documenting the aggregate effect of economic downturns on urbanization and land-use change in Southern Europe are rather scarce. By considering a sequence of expansion and recession waves in Greece, our study verifies if land-use change differed in entity and spatial direction at two time intervals (2006–2012, 2012–2018) in the Athens’ metropolitan region. Different processes of urban transformation and landscape change were detected analysing Urban Atlas (1:10,000) change maps. The framework proposed in this study integrates a classical approach of landscape ecology grounded on the analysis of land-use metrics with a broader perspective linking regional science to spatial planning. To discriminate morphological from functional urbanization traits typical of expansions and recessions, our study performs a comparative analysis of seven trajectories of land-use change. Results identify a moderate expansion of residential settlements during 2006–2012, and a more evident growth of industrial settlements during 2012–2018. A significant increase in the number and size of forest patches converted to urban use was observed with recession, highlighting the increased vulnerability of relict natural sites with low economic value and high ecological potential. Crisis dynamics have stimulated an intensive use of fringe spaces for small residential settlements. By exalting local-scale specificities toward settlement densification and extensification on both greenfields and brownfields, economic downturns in metropolitan regions made land-use changes largely dependent on the background socioeconomic local context.

Keywords: Urban governance; Land management; Economic crisis; Spatial principal component analysis; Mediterranean Europe (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2021.105740

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