This work refers to the design, test and implementation of an estimation index useful to describe cultivated areas reduction in a sub-urban context. The index is based on the historical analysis of the interference between urban development and agricultural activities, and it uses geostatistical methods. The necessary data to implement the index has been derived from heterogeneous sources covering a period of about 10 years (1996 to 2005). Joint use of optical satellite images at high/very high spatial resolution and numerical cartographic data has been essential. More in detail, the index has been tested in the estimation of land use changes for the period of 2005 to 2008 in the study area. Results have been verified through a very-high-resolution (VHR) Kompsat 2 satellite image acquired in 2008.
Key words: Geographical information systems (GIS), urban sprawl, area profile index, prediction models.