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Degree of urban sprawl in Switzerland: Quantitative analysis 1940-2002 and implications for regional planning

Applicant Kienast-Witschi Felix
Number 107169
Funding scheme NRP 54 Sustainable Development of the Built Environment
Research institution Swiss Federal Research Inst. WSL Direktion
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research - WSL
Main discipline Environmental Research
Start/End 01.08.2005 - 31.12.2009
Approved amount 218'090.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Environmental Research
Animal Breeding
Social geography and ecology

Keywords (5)

urban sprawl; landscape metrics; regional planning; environmental indicators; landscape fragmentation

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
How to stop urban sprawl in Switzerland?

Urban sprawl refers a particular type of suburban development characterized by very low-density settlements, transportation dominated by private cars, and unlimited outward expansion. The more area has been built over and the more dispersed the buildings are, the higher is the degree of urban sprawl. Typical effects are, for example, the loss of habitats and recreational areas, low densities of buildings and inhabitants, separation of housing and work places, and high numbers of commuters. Concern about the effects of urban sprawl has increased considerably in the scientific, planning, business and political worlds. Data are therefore needed which allow comparison of the degree of urban sprawl in different regions.

The emphasis of the project is on identifying trends for future development (up to 2020 and 2050) and on interpreting their implications. Based on the results, the project will draw conclusions for regional planning and propose new measures for controlling urban sprawl according to the principles of sustainable development.

The project will investigate the development of urban sprawl in Switzerland from 1940 to 2002 in quantitative terms (map of the degree of urban sprawl, time series of the degree, spatial comparison). The time series tracking the degree of urban sprawl will be used as a sustainability indicator in the MONET (monitoring sustainable development) project and for monitoring purposes in the "Swiss Spatial Monitoring Programme" conducted by the ARE (Federal Office for Spatial Development). To identify trends and their implications, the project will develop and compare a set of alternative scenarios based on the development of the human population in Switzerland and on the spatial distribution of new urban developments.

The project will provide information on the current status and historical development of urban sprawl as a foundation for regional planning, traffic planning, decision making and policy. Furthermore, the data will be useful - as an environmental monitoring indicator, - for environmental protection, to raise awareness of the problem among the general public.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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