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An increasing share of people and economic activities are attracted by the cities. This fact shows positive aspects and at the same time causes challenges, mainly in reference to the soil whose ecosystem services can be disrupted when the land cover is modified. Therefore, urbanization is a critical issue for the land management. Contrasting the urban sprawl (i.e. the spontaneous, unplanned process transforming vegetated land covers into artificial ones) is relevant for soil protection in terms of minimizing the land take. Remote sensing technologies have provided support (with an ex-post approach) to understand urban sprawl as a process and to assess its impacts on the sustainability of land management. The current availability of high-resolution/ very-high-resolution (HR/VHR) satellite data suggests to explore a different approach, aiming to deploy timely adequate countermeasures. The analysis of the urban sprawl processes pinpoints how the induced land cover changes show some specific patterns; moreover, distinctive trajectories in the space of multitemporal / multispectral imagery data can be elicited, relying also upon vegetation indices as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Accordingly, suitable precursors of urban sprawl processes can be detected. Such precursors can support a novel ex-ante approach in preventing the consolidation of the outcomes of the urban sprawl processes.


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