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Landform Classification for Land Use Planning in

Developed Areas: An Example in Segovia Province
(Central Spain)
JOSE F. MARTiN-DUQUE' ABSTRACT I Landform-based physiographic maps, also
JAVlER PEDRAZA called land systems inventorias, have been widely and suc­
MIGUEL A. SANZ cessfully usad in undevelopad/rural areas in several loca­
JOSE M. BODOQUE tions, such as Australia, the western United States, Can­
Department of Geodynamics ada, and the British ex-colonies. This paper presents a
Complutense University case study of their application in a developed semi-urban!
Cl Jose Antonio Novais sin suburban area (Segovia, Spain) for land use planning pur­
28040 Madrid. Spain
poses. The paper focuses in the information transfer pro­
ANDREW E. GODFREY cess, showing how land use decision-makers, such as
Intermountain Region governments, planners, town managers, ate.. can use the
USDA Forest Service information developed from these maps to assist them. The
324 25th Street paper also addrasses several issues important to the devel­
Ogden. Utah 84401. USA opment and use of this information, such as the goals of

ANDREs DIEZ modem physiography, the typas of landform-based map­

ROSA M. CARRASCO ping products, the problem of data management in devel­

Department of Engineering Geology and Mining oped areas, and the distinctions among data, interpreta­
University of Castilla-La Mancha tions, and decisions.
C. Tecnol6gico
45071 Tolado. Spain

Developed regions have in common an intense com­ For a workable allocation of land uses, planners and
petition for land. A high concentration of uses and land managers need to consider infonnation from both
infrastructures takes place in and around urban areas, the physical and biological components of the environ­
whereas the traditionally extensive agricultural and ru­ ment and from the social and economic situation. In
ral zones are more selective and intensive in their ac­ this paper. we deal with the fonner-the land. focusing
tivities. This pressure often entails fast and dramatic on its inventory and evaluation.
changes in the landscape. Land evaluations depend on the purpose of the
Planners, managers, and politicians have the task of planning, but two distinctive characteristics nonnally
accommodating the many social needs in these regions, have to be considered in developed areas: limited avail­

mainly by making decisions concerning those elements ability of natural resources and land, and the risks

of the environment that can be manipulated (War­ involved in the high concentration of goods and infra­

rington and others 1989). Allocation of land uses af­ structures. Safety from natural hazards and the protec­

fects many of those controllable elements of the envi­ tion of natural resources, ecosystems, and landscapes

ronment and may become a key component of decision are, therefore, among the priorities of any land-use
planning and management of developed areas.
of any land use plan.
To provide input for these evaluations, an inventory
must be constructed to document relevant properties
of individual resource elements. The inventory should
KEY WORDS: Land classification; Landform mapping; Terrain analysis;
be carried out to meet the objectives of the evaluation.
Physiography; lcr1dscape; Land uselterritorial plcrmng; Segovia;
While the specific objectives of any inventory and eval­

Published online October 20, 2003. uation may vary, there must be effective tw�way com­

"'Author to whom correspondence should be addressed, (tluUl: munication between the decision-makers and the sci­ entists gathering the infonnation. The decision-maker
Table 1. Selected references describing landform-based physiographic classifications (in approximate
chronological order)

Land Classifications Selected references

American physiographic pioneers (Iandform-based classifications at Powell (1895), Salisbury (1907), Fenneman (1917)
regional scale)
Birth of the land-type concept (United States) Yeatch (1937)
The beginning of land classification by aerial photo interpretation Bourne (1931), Unstead (1933), Milne (1935).
(British foresters and soil scientists)
British Geography Wooldridge (1932), Linton (1951)
Initiation of landscape ecology (Central Europe) Passarge (1919-1920), Troll (1950)
Russian physical geography Vinogradov and others (1962), Solntsev (1962),
Sochava (1974)
Australian CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Christian (1958), Christian and Stewart (1968),
Organization) method and diffusion of the land-system concept Stewart (1968)
British engineering geology applications (MEXE-Military Beckett and Webster (1969), Brink and others
Engineering Experimental Establishment-system) (1966), Howard and Mitchell (1980)
Other East and Central European schools of physical geography and Neef (1963), Haase (1964), Bertrand (1968), Pecsi
geomorphology and Somogyi (1969)
Australian engineering geology applications (PUCE-pattern, unit, Aitchison and Grant (1968), Grant and Finlayson
component, unit-system) (1978), Finlayson (1984)
CSIRO and PUCE method-based for landscape and environmental Arnot and Crant (1981), Christian (1982),
planning in Australia Finlayson and Buckland (1987)
Land surveys of the International Institute for Aerial Survey and Van Zuidam and Van Zuidam (1979), Meijerink
Earth Sciences (ITC, Holland) (1988), Zonneveld (1989)
Books and reports on land/terrain analysis/ evaluations Way (1973), FAO (1976), Mitchell (1991)
The updating of landscape classifications and physiography from Godfrey (1977), Codfrey and Cleaves (1991)
Geology in the United States
Ecological land classifications in the United States and Canada (for Hills(1961), Lacate (1969), Wertz and Arnold
forest planning and natural resources management) (1972), Rowe and Sheard (1981), Bailey (1983),
Bailey and others (1985), Moss (1985), Avers and
others (1993)

needs to articulate the information needed, while the tian 1958. Wertz and Amold 1972). and "land units"
scientist needs to communicate the gathered infOIma­ (Zonneveld 1989), among others.
tion in an easily understandable form. This paper shows Physiographic classifications and maps adapt well to
how landform-based physiographic classifications, hierarchical arrangements, which facilitates their cor­
which have been used successfully as a basic land inven­ relation with and application to different scales of plan­
tory technique in undeveloped land areas (Table I) can ning and decision-making (Figure I) from general in­
also be used to provide useful information to managers formation to more detailed, each more-detailed level
of developed areas. incorporating the criteria of the more generalized
level. This feature enables the effective transfer of in­
fonnation from one level of planning to another.

Modern Physiography Physiographic classifications have been used most

commonly as reconnaissance techniques for integrat­
Physiographic classifications seek to organize the ing infonnation from a wide variety of sources and for
complexity of earth's surface and near-surface systems large geographic areas for which environmental infor­
through the definition and delineation of integrated mation was either lacking or deficient (Le., undevel­
spatial units, at any scale, that are ecologically and oped and rural areas). However, the validity of physi­
functionally homogeneous. They have been also named ographic landform-based inventories in developed
"landscape" (Mabbut 1968). "terrain" (Way 1973, areas or industrialized countries requires verifiable ex­
Mitchell 1991), "ecological" (for example, Bailey and amples. Because of the intense competition for the
others 1985), "biophysical" (Lacate 1969, Moss 1975), land in developed areas-and consequent changes in
and "phytogeomorphic" (Howard and Mitchell 1980); land use-physiographic inventories, in this frame­
or, referring to the basic tracts of land that they repre­ work, now require more-detailed units than those com­
sent, "land types" (Veatch 1937), "land systems" (Chris- monly used in the past in undeveloped areas.

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Producing Landform Maps: The Problem of example accommodating a loss in one area to gain a
benefit in another.
Data Management

Developed and undeveloped regions present two

distinct sets of problems for landform-based physi­ Example of Application: The Case of Segovia,
ographic classification. In undeveloped regions, the
main problem is the lack of previous information. In­
formation is often acquired by means of aerial photo The Segovia and Surroundings Land Use Planning
interpretation and satellite image classification. which Guidelines (SSLPG) constitute a territorial plan. at the
need field surveys to check the interpretations. In de­ subprovincial level. for the area that surrounds the city
veloped regions, however, the problem is generally not of Segovia. Spain. This area is located in the southern

the lack of infonnation. but rather the opposite. The portion of the Castilla y Lean Region (formerly Old
amount of information available about the landforms Castile). in the center of the Iberian Peninsula. north
and the land can be ovenvhelming. However. this in­ of Madrid (Figure 2). Situated in the southwest portion
formation is often fragmented, dispersed, not updated, of Segovia Province. the area includes 71 municipalities
not useful for land management. heterogeneous. and and almost 2000 sq k. covering portions of the north

expressed in very different formats. Therefore. the slope of the Guadarrama Mountains. its Piedmont. and

problem of data management in developed areas, for a southern portion of the Douro Basin. The Guadar­

landforms or for any other component of the land. has rama Mountains, a range of the Spanish Central Sys­

replaced that of data acquisition (Mitchell 1991). Land­ tem, form the hydrographic divide between the Douro

form and physiographic units in these developed re­ and Tagus rivers and the boundary between the Castilla

gions can serve as a very effective and efficient means of y Lean and Madrid regions. The northern Guadarrama

cataloguing and sorting previously acquired informa­ Piedmont is a rocky plain of the Iberian Massif that

tion. surrounds the mountainous area of Guadarrama. The

Douro Basin constitutes a high plain of sedimentary
terrain almost completely surrounded by mountains.
The SSLPG is directed by two laws that are the
Distinction Among Data, Interpretations, and
framework of the land use regulations in the Castilla y
Lean Region: the 10/1998 Act, for Territorial Plan­
Decision-makers need to understand and distinguish ning; and the 5/1999 Act, for Urban Planning.
the types of input they receive from scientists. research­ Article 5 of the 10/1998 Act created an instrument
ers. or technicians who conduct the inventories and called "planning guidelines," with subregional applica­
investigations. This input can take the form of data. tion. The first planning guidelines in Castilla y Lean
interpretive models. information. etc. Definitions of were enacted for the area surrounding the region's
these inputs have been synthesized as follows by War­ capital. Valladolid. The second area chosen for enact­
rington (1998, pp. 1-2): (I) inventory data-individual ing the planning guidelines surrounds Segovia city.
facts obtained during data acquisition; (2) interpreta­ Segovia was chosen because the city and its surround­
tions-projected responses for individual resources; ing territory are characterized by the highest rate of
and (3) management infOImation-integration of mu1- urban spreading of the region. because of its proximity
tiple resource responses. Regarding landforms. exam­ to metropolitan Madrid. The area also has a high eco­

ples of inventory data could be stream flow. slope of a logical and scenic diversity and a remarkable historic

landform, soil depth, or land elevation. Examples of and cultural heritage.

interpretations refer to the relationship between a
cause and an effect or the relationships of a fact to an Physiographic Approach in the SSLPG

issue. problem. or concern; e.g. when water is added to The Castilla y Lean Planning Guidelines framework
this soil type it swells and expands, slopes developed on (10/1998 Act, Paragraph 17.I.f.) requires the establish­
this rock type are generally unstable, or weathering of ment of criteria and rules for the protection of the
this limestone produces collapse sinks when exposed natural and cultural resources. their hannonization
near the surface. An example of management informa­ with the economic and urban development. the delin­
tion could be the location of a proposed structure in eation of areas of protection. and the completion of
relation to the lOO-year floodplain. land use plans.
Lastly. a '"decision" is the selection of a course of To reach these goals. three specific objectives are
action with the knowledge of the consequences. for called for by the guidelines: (I) characterization of the
- -
- -

FIgure 2. Location of the area studied for the Segovia Land Use Plan (spider web pattern). Symbols ANI, N-IIO, and A-I identifY
the main roads in the area (A, highway; N. main Toad).

physiographic setting at the regional level, for broad Land and Landform Data Management
environmental policy and land use guidelines; (2) def­
The SSLPG is a good illustration of the problems
inition and characterization of homogeneous land­
encountered in producing information for applied pur­
scape domains, which would serve as the physical set­
poses in a developed area that has been well studied for
ting to which the environmental management
academic and other purposes. When the studies for the
guidelines would refer in considering future develop­
SSLPG began, geomorphologic information about this
ments (priority setting); and (3) provision of manage­
region was abundant: the whole area was covered by
ment information (at the semidetailed level of a
1:100,000 geomorphologic maps; furthermore, numer­
1:25,000 scale) for establishing land use regulations for
ous theses, scientific papers, maps, published reports,
local (municipal) planning, for the protection of spe­
and other documents also provided detailed informa­
cific ecosystems and scenic resources, and the minimi­
zation of natural hazards. These oq;ectives meant that tion about the landfonns in this area. However, this
the classification system had to be multipurpose, com­ abundance of cartographic and written reports had
prehensive. and hierarchical to allow for decisions at been developed using different methods and scales of
several scales. For these reasons, we followed a land­ mapping. Further, this wealth of information generally
form-based physiographic approach. was produced for reasons other than land use planning
applications. Therefore, new landform and physi­
Landfarm Mapping as a Starting Point ographic maps had to be produced and new databases

All 1and classifications are human constructs based had to be constructed that were tailored to the objec­
on specific purposes and must be measured by their tives of the plan.
practical utility. The classification used in the SSLPG is The basic vehicle for gathering the information
not intended to be suitable for all purposes. It is just a was the mapping of landform types at a 1:25,000
framework for building, communicating, and transfer­ scale. This was accomplished primarily through aer­
ring management infonnation by starting with land­ ial photo interpretation and fi e ld surveys. By combin­
form mapping. Within this conceptual and spatial ing landform types, landfonn domains were obtained.
framework, both descriptive and interpretative infor­ Geomorphic regions were in turn obtained by associa­
mation can be progressively aggregated, from land­ tion of landform domains. Tables 23 show the classifi­
form/geoenvironmental, to ecological, to landscape. cation system,
Table 2. Hierarchical landform classification for the SSLPG land inventory.

Level 1: Geomor phic regions Level 2: Landform domains Level 3: Landform types

I. Guadarrama Mountains A. Mountains Summits o to 62: see Table 3

B, Mountains Slopes
C. Secondary Mountain Ranges
11. Northern Guadarrama Piedmont D. Piedmont
E. Interior Valleys
F, Cuestas and Mesas
Ill. Douro Basin Plains G. Rolling Plains
H. Flat Plains
I. Sandy Plains
j. Floodplains
K. Small Massifs

Regional Scale, Physiographic Setting, and terns of land use adapted to the characteristics of the
Geomorphic Regions existing environment.

Three geomorphic regions comprise the physi­

Municipal Scale, Land Management, and Landform
ographic setting of the SSLPG: Guadarrama Moun­
tains. Northern Guadarrama Piedmont. and Douro Ba­
sin Plains (Figure 3). The decision-making objectives at this level are the
These geomorphic regions served as the basis for establishment of land use guidelines and regulations.
defining natural regions, after the physical and biolog­ stated by the regional government. for local and mu­
ical environment within each unit were characterized. nicipal planning. Reduction of natural hazards and
This level of the hierarchy constitutes the regional scale preservation of singular ecosystems and scenery were
at which broad policy decisions on the use of land­ the main goals of the SSLPG at this level. These goals
according to integrated land units-can be made. For were set by the 5/1999 Urban Planning Act of Castilla
example. as a consequence of this type of policy deci­ y Lean, which established the need for defining a spe­
sion. the Guadarrama Mountains natural region is cur­ cific land category designated as "not for building"
rently being evaluated as a potential national park. The (suelo rUstico) because of its natural values or hazards.
Piedmont regional planning focuses on both urban and Landform types were the mapping units for gather­
infrastructure organization. and the Douro Basin Plains ing and representing information needed at this level.
region is undergoing agroenvironmental plans and A total of 63 landform types (Table 3) were mapped
groundwater protection guidelines. and described.
Figure 5 shows the scheme of organizing and trans­
Sub regional Scale, Environmental Management ferring physiographic information at this level. by using
Guidelines, and Landform Domains landform maps as a starting point. It should be noted
Landform domains (Figure 4), by definition, are that the geoenvironmental. ecological. and landscape
both subdivisions of natural regions and associations of nature of the information (both descriptive and inter­
landform types. Landform domains are defined specif­ pretative) are differentiated. This is important. as the
ically from a geomorphologic basis, so that they are distinction among landform. ecological. and landscape
highly homogeneous with respect to bedrock, topogra­ classifications. descriptions and interpretations. and
phy. hydrologic conditions. and soil associations. These their maps. is not always obvious in the literature. The
units are also characterized by very similar vegetation. proposed schema shows the flow of information. It also
land use patterns. historical use. and environmental incorporates and maintains the distinction among data
diagnosis. When this information is added to the land­ (inventory). interpretations. management information
form boundaries. they become landscape domains. and decisions.
Landscape domains in the SSLPG classification serve as Landfonn type descriptions and interpretations f�
the physical setting for environmental management cus on aspects related to the objectives of land-protec­
guidelines related to future territorial development. tion goals of the SSLPG at this level, addressing the
This is really the level at which the plan pursues an needs for municipal guidelines planning. The follow­
environmental management approach. seeking pat- ing paragraphs give examples of some geoenvironmen-
Table 3. Landform types (regional toponymic names, tal interpretations that were made at the local (munic­
when available) ipal) level.
O-reservoirs 1. Natural hmards. Landform type polygons display
I- gneiss slopes areas of similar geologic processes and rates; for exam­
2-granite slopes (pedrizas) ple. flooding. mass movement. and soil erosion.
3-torrent gorges (tmrentems)
4- g1aciated cirques/nivation hollows Natural hazard assessments were made for individual
5-gneiss-granite colluvium landform units. where possible. Hazard consists of the
6-s1ope debris deposits probability that a specific harmful process will occur in
7-talus slopes (pedreras)
a given area. This was done by determining both the
8 -peat bogs (tollas)
9-moraines processes acting on that landform unit and the rate. or
ID-landslide/slump deposits frequency, of events driving the process. The degree of
Il-torrent floodplains confidence was also supplied by determining the reli­
12-boulder fields (bm-ocaiM)
13-s1ope mountain benches ability of the data. Examples for individual landform
14-alluvial fan deposits units are:
15-thin veneer alluvial fan deposits
I6-mountain passes (colbuJos)
1. Landform type II-D-28, piedmont lowlands, is sub­
17-mountain summits (pelados)
18-secondary mountain divides ject to seasonal low-intensity floods. which repre­
19-high peat bogs (tollas) sents a constraint for housing. farming. and indus­
20-mountain knolls (wbews) trial development.
21-gneiss surfaces
22- gneiss rolling surfaces 2. Landform type III-K-23, rocky slopelands, shows
23-rocky slopeland active soil erosion by running water. due to over­
24-piedmont hills (cabezos, otems) grazing, with rates ranging from l.l to 1.8 mm/yr
25-rocky ridges (crestas)
(19-31 t/ha/year), determined by using dendro­
26- granite/gneiss gorges (gargantas)
27-mixed alluvial-colluvial deposits chronological analysis of exposed tree roots.
28-piedmont lowlands (navas) 3. Landform type II-F-33, silica sand and shale slopes,
29-alluvial piedmont fans (miias) shows high natural slope instability, with frequent
30-rolling limestone terrain
31-limestone mesas (lastms) landslides throughout. Historical data suggest that
32-limestone cuestas (lastms) these slopes. in the regions around Segovia. have
33-silica sand and shale slopes up to a 10% probability per year of failing. Exam­
34-limestone canyons (hocinos, caiioms)
ples of slumps affecting buildings and roads are
35-colluvial limestone deposits
36-silica-sand rolling terrain (armaks) frequent all over the Segovia area.
37-alluvial dry valley fill deposits 4. Landform type III:/-53, alluvial floodplains, under­
38 ---arkosic upland plains (ltmuls)
goes recurrent floods after heavy rains caused by
39-arkosic downhill declines
40-arkosic plains (llanuras) autumn convective storms and winter frontal pre­
41-silt flat plains (Uanuras) cipitation events; data gathered from each specific
42-broad valleys slopes floodplain allowed the evaluation of the recurrence
43-gullied slopes (cdrcavas)
44-arkosic cuestas
periods of these events for each flood plain.
45-arkosic slopes and scarps
46-sandy colluvial deposits The description of the nature and rates of these
47-peat ponds (labajos) natural hazards then can be combined with a knowl­
48 -alluvial stream beds
49-small arkosic hills (atoms) edge of existing and planned developments to produce
50-colluvial downhill declines a risk assessment using the UNESCO formula of natural
51-terrace scarps risks (UNESCO 1972). This combines the assessment of
52-high fluvial terraces
a hazard with an assessment of the values or devel0IT
53-alluvial floodplains (vegas)
54-alluvial terrace deposits ments that a hazard could impact. Items to consider
55-sand dunes (cota7TOS) include whether a hazard could impact human life,
56-sand sheets (arenales) such as a housing development or school. or a compar­
57-slate slopelands (pizarraks)
58 -slate surfaces (pizarraks) ison of developments such as an open park versus an
59- gneiss grus office that produces and maintains high-value unique
60-granitic tors (bnrocotos) information. While the probability of a hazard should
61-granitic scarps
62-doline fields (/lundns) remain relatively constant. under constant conditions
such as climate. the level of risk increases if high-value
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Figure 4. Map of landform domains.

developments are permitted to move into the hazard trinsic and extrinsic value criteria. These criteria in­
zone. Planning can avoid this increased risk. clude: rareness, number of publications about the site
2. Geo.siteJ. Landform types were assessed according under evaluation (as a measure of the availability of
to their potential for educational and scientific pur­ research/knowledge). diversity of elements of interest
poses and tourist and recreational purposes. In the within the landform, total area, association with other
past, designation of sites for educational or recreational elements of the environment (archaeological, historic,
purposes has been done mainly on a political or emo­ ethnographic, flora, fauna, scenery), diversity of possi­
tional basis rather than on an objective or scientific ble activities within the landform, accessibility, proxim­
basis. We followed a systematic approach that uses in- ity to towns or cities, degree of preservation, and num-
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Figure 5. Proposed system for building and transferring land management information at the municipal level, starting from
landform mapping.

ber of inhabitants in the surrounding area (Cendrero GIS Physiographic Data Management of the SSLPG
1996). Within the SSLPG area, examples of landform The landform type maps, originally produced in
types that provide opportunities for scientific and
analog format at a scale of 1:25,000, were digitized in
broad environmental education are: I-A-4 (glaciated
vector format. Landform types were identified by a
cirques) and II-F-62 (karstic dolines). Examples of land­
three-part code. The first part (a Roman numeral)
form types that provide high potential for tourist and
refers to geomorphic region. the second (a capital
recreational purposes are II-F-34 (limestone canyons)
letter) refers to the landformdomain, and the third (an
and II-D-12 (houlder fields). Following the same crite­
Arabic numeral) refers to the landform type. Thus,
ria. small-size features. such as springs. waterfalls. pot­
1-8-2, for example, represents the Granite Slopes type
holes, ponds, were also mapped and evaluated. These
were represented by a point on 1:25,000 scale maps. of the Mountain Slopes domain of the Guadarrama
3. Other special characteristics. Elements of the geoen­ Mountains region. This system allows one to produce
vironment that need to be protected or watched out for automatically any of the three levels of the land classi­
were identified (e.g .. landforms that are aquifer-re­ fication scheme.
charge areas, such as II-F-30, II-F-3l, II-F-32; see tables While digital information can be represented and
23). plotted at any scale, landform types show their opti-
mum output at 1:25,000, landfonn domains at and aesthetic landscape appreciation. Landscape Planning
1:100,000 and geomorphic regions at 1:250,000. 8:269-300.
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