Land cover data as environmentally sensitive decision-making mediator in territorial and administrative reform

Hysa A., Baskaya F. A.

COGENT ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, vol.4, no.1, 2018 (ESCI) identifier


This paper presents a multi-criteria conceptual framework for decision-making processes during Territorial and Administrative Reform (TAR) relying on sustainable development principles. In general, TAR processes highly consider sociocultural and economic factors, but they lack responsiveness to environmental dynamics of the context. While this practice achieves a fair allocation of the new administrative units' centers, the border defining criteria are indistinct. Thus, we turn a spotlight on the environmental factors as fundamental criteria in TAR decision-making processes, especially the boundary definition stage. Topography, watershed, land cover, and natural conservation areas are among the proposed environmental measures. The research makes a real case of land cover data utilization as environmentally sensitive decision-making mediator. First, the CORINE Land Cover (CLC) data of 2012 serves as an evaluation criteria of the recent TAR (2014) in Albanian territory, based on the landscape fragmentation caused by the new spatial division. Second, the CLC data generates an alternative municipal boundary of the Albanian capital. The results show that a TAR process not taking into account the environmental criteria leads to functionally disconnected territories which in the long run may lead to physically fragmented natural landscapes. Furthermore, the new alignment for municipal borders of Tirana shows a successful result in minimizing natural landscape fragmentation caused by local administrative boundaries. The proposed multi-criteria conceptual framework and the application via CLC utilization presents a methodical approach which may assist decision-making processes of TAR in other developing countries, conform sustainable territorial management principles.