Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

D. Scott Slocombe

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


As ecosystem-based management is increasingly used to manage the environment, methods of applying these approaches to resolve environmental and natural resource issues must be established. The concept of ecosystem health can be used to assist in ecosystem-based management since it takes into account the environmental, economic, and social aspects of ecosystems. The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate the manner in which landscape ecology can be used to manage for the goal of obtaining a healthy ecosystem. This is achieved by studying the landscape of Lunigiana, Italy, an agricultural region located near Italy's northwestern coast. Particular emphasis is placed on studying the period between the 1880s and the 1980s since it was during this time that a significant change in the landscape pattern occurred due to changing socioeconomic conditions. In order to understand the effects of these changes on the ecosystem, this thesis analyzes and examines the effects of natural and human processes on Lunigiana's landscape by studying the landscape patterns of three sites along the Taverone River valley as well as the general landscape pattern of Lunigiana. A geographic trend of increasing diversity and contagion and decreasing dominance values was observed with increasing elevation and distance of the study sites from the coastal urban centres. This occurred as a result of the larger amount of abandoned agricultural land and degraded woodland in the more remote upland areas due to their past dependence on the agriculture industry. However Lunigiana's landscape pattern, and the ecosystem processes observed at the landscape level, reveal that although areas of Lunigiana continue to be abandoned, the ecosystem is still able to maintain its ability to adapt and reorganize to suit changing ecosystem components and processes. The effectiveness of using and linking landscape analyses in order to assess Lunigiana’s ecosystem health is reviewed. Ultimately, however, the relevance of the information available at the landscape level, and the manner in which to use it in ecosystem health assessment, is presented as a guide for improving ecosystem-based management.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season