published on 27 December 2018 in ecosystems

ISPRA report on the quality of urban environments

Once again it’s time for end of year ratings and reports that give an accurate picture of the environment’s state of health. The 14th edition of the ISPRA report on  “Urban Environment Quality”, presented in Rome on 19th December, gives a full picture on the quality of the environment in Italian cities. ISPRA (the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research) has analysed the environment in no less than 120 cities and 14 metropolitan areas, using 400 indicators.
As in all reports, there is positive news alongside data that are still negative. With regard to PM10 and overshooting threshold values during the year, for example, the data show values over the limit in 19 urban areas with Brescia leading the table for days of excessive pollution (87) and Viterbo where, up to now at least, the limit has never been exceeded.
On the other hand, the report shows that there is a significant trend towards reduction in emission levels of primary PM10, like that emitted by domestic heating and transport, down 19% in 10 years (2005 to 2015).

According ISPRA, the trend in PM10, PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations is decreasing, although these concentrations are still very much above the limits considered safe by the World Health Organisation and air quality in Northern Italy, and more specifically the Po Plain, remains extremely poor. The transport sector is mainly responsible for air pollution and indeed on its own accounts for 20% of primary PM10 emissions. The growth of shared mobility is more positive and in fact over the past three years the number of shared vehicles has more than doubled: of the 48 thousand vehicles made available last year, 83% are bicycles, 16% are cars and 1% are scooters.

With regard to land consumption, in 2017 Naples and Milan were the cities that “gobbled up” most land, at respectively 34.2% and 32.3%. On average, Italian municipalities consume around 650 hectares of land each year. This leads to an overall cost, in terms of loss of major ecosystem services, estimated at between 215 and 270 million Euro.

In 2017 too, the proportion of public green areas in municipal territories remained low, with levels of less than 4% in 84 of the 116 cities where the figure is available. Green planning is also very rare: only 10 Municipalities have a approved a “green plan”. However, it must also be noted that 2018 marked the setting up of the first national list of monumental trees: in 60 municipalities of the 120 analysed, at least one monumental tree was recorded with a total of 413 reports. A total of 456 trees have been identified in all the metropolitan cities.

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