1. Surface area and territorial features

2. Climate and pollution

3. Waste production and management

4. Water resources

5. Environmental protection

6. Other statistics


1. Surface area and territorial features

This section presents a set of statistics on the main characteristics of the territory, both at the regional level and in the provinces. When possible, the data are also broken down at municipal level.

Data on the surface area are supplied to Istat by the Agency for the Territory of the Ministry of Finance, which assesses the area of the communes (total and covered by inland waters).

The area by altitude zone is calculated by Istat starting from the communal data; altitude zones are seaside mountain, inland mountain, seaside hill, inland hill, plains.

The calculation of information concerning seismic activity, also carried out by Istat, considers the classification of the communes created reviewed after the earthquakes in Irpinia in 1980 and in Molise in 2002. In Italy the seismic activity is constantly monitored by the National Seismic Network (which belongs to the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, INGV). There are two other networks, the National Accelerometric Network and the Observatory of Seismic Activity on Structures, which operate within the Civil Protection Department, and whose aim is to evaluate in real time the damages that might be caused by earthquakes.

Forest areas are classified into:

  • Non-stocked forest land: includes non-productive areas (forest roads, fire barrier paths, wood stores) that are however necessary for production, small areas (such as rocky areas, marshes, tree nurseries) located  in forests and used for one’s own needs, and dwellings for forest staff
  • Woodlands: areas not smaller than 1/2 hectare, with wooden plants, trees and/or shrubs to produce wood and forest goods. The projection of grown plant foliage should not be less than 50% of surface and should affect indirectly climate and waters.


Hydro-geological risk is intended as the risk deriving from extreme weather events that lead to environmental disruptions, such as floods. Due to the impact of such phenomena, ad after the tragic events that took place in Sarno (1998), the Ministry of the Environment, together with other Institutional bodies, launched an analysis of the risk over the entire Italian territory. Through a qualitative methodology, the analysis enabled to indentify the “level of hydro-geological risk” of the Italian municipalities. The data presented in this section are of source ISPRA- Institute for Environmental Protection and Research.


2. Climate and pollution

Statistics on weather and climate are produced by Istat in collaboration with the Council for Agricultural Research, Unit for climate and meteorological research applied to agriculture (Cra-Cma), and are based on information provided by 150 national and regional measurement stations

The meteorological observations comply with the standards set by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) with regard to the type of measurement instruments and data collection.

Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the “average weather” or more rigorously as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Data on emissions of pollutants are of source ARPA Lombardia – Regional Agency for Environment Protection. Emissions can be grouped into two broad categories:

- "diffused", i.e. spread over the territory and estimated through specific indicators and emission factors;

- "punctual", i.e. sources of pollution that can be clearly located, estimated through data collected via a specific census.

The inventories emissions generally consider the following air pollutants:

  • Sulphur oxides (SOx);
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx);
  • Volatile organic compounds (non-methane) (VOCNM);
  • Methane (CH4);
  • Carbon monoxide (CO);
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2);
  • Ammonia (NH3);
  • Nitrous oxide(N2O);
  • total suspended particulate mattes (TSP);
  • Particulate matter (size < 10 micrometers) (PM10);
  • Particulate matter (size < 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5).


The calculation of estimates for emissions of some other pollutants are still underway. The preliminary data obtained were considered to be too uncertain, and therefore more detailed studies are necessary. The other pollutants are:

  • Heavy metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, Se, Zn);
  • Organochlorine compounds (dioxins, etc.).

Eleven macro-sectors that generate pollutant emissions have been indentified:

  • Power plants (electricity, combined heat and power , collective heating);
  • Non-industrial combustion plants (trade, housing, agriculture);
  • Combustion in industry;
  • Production processes; 
  • Extraction and distribution of fossil fuels; 
  • Use of solvents; 
  • Road transport; 
  • Other mobile sources and machinery; 
  • Waste treatment and disposal; 
  • Agriculture; 
  • Other sources and absorptions. 

The classification proposed is aimed to make inventories at the national, regional and provincial level, and includes all activities considered of relevance for pollutant emissions. This nomenclature can however be updated by including new sectors that generate significant emissions in some areas.

ARPA Lombardia – Regional Agency for Environment Protection also collects data on plants at the risk of relevant accident at the province level (as well as the regional total). The national data on the subject are produced and released by Istat.

A relevant accident is an event such as a fire, an explosion or the leak of dangerous substances, which is dangerous for human health or for the environment, and whose extension exceeds that of the plant.


3. Waste production and management

Statistics on waste production are produced by ISPRA- Institute for Environmental Protection and Research.

Separate collection

Data on the separate collection of waste are gathered through questionnaires sent to all public and private operators that, for any reason, have information on waste management.

More specifically, the questionnaires are sent to the Regional and Provincial Agencies for Environment protection, to the Regional Administrations, to the Provincial Administrations, to the Provincial Observatories on waste production and, in some cases, to the municipal companies of waste collection.

The calculation of the amount of waste collected separately includes the following fractions of waste:

• organic fraction (humid fraction + green fraction): given the lack of information at the national level concerning the proportion of impurities, such fractions are considered in their totality. This may give rise, in some cases, to an overestimation of the actual quantities of organic waste destined for recovery.

• packaging waste: the questionnaires sent by ISPRA were aimed at separating the various types of packaging, on the basis of the materials they are made of (glass, paper, steel, aluminium, plastics, wood). In several cases it was however not possible to obtain disaggregated data on metal packagings and for this reason some data are released in a more aggregated level. Besides, in some cases it was not possible to separate metal packagings from metal bulky waste. In this cases the entire amount has been included in the category metal bulky waste.

• Recoverable bulky waste:  only the fractions destined for recovery are considered; when it was not possible to identify the specific proportion destined for recovery, the entire quantity was excluded from the data on separate collection. This may give rise, in some cases, to an underestimation of the quantities of bulky waste actually collected separately.

• Multi-material: the breakdown of multi-material separate collection was calculated according to the average composition as informed by the bodies involved in waste management. For the areas for which information was not available, the various fractions were broken down using the proportions calculated at the provincial, regional and, in the worst cases, national level. Scrap was included in the share relating to urban undifferentiated waste.

• Selective collection: on the basis of the European list of wasted, selective collection comprises pharmaceuticals, TFC containers, batteries and accumulators, varnishes, adhesives, printing inks, vegetable oils and mineral oils.

•Waste electrical and electronic equipment from households

• Waste of textile origin.

• Other fractions collected separately within the urban circuit and intended for recovery.

The calculation of separate collection does not include:

• scrap deriving from plants for the selection of scrap collected separately (which is included in total urban undifferentiated waste);

• construction and demolition waste, even if produced by households (is included in special waste and therefore excluded from urban waste);

• cemetery waste, beach and street cleaning waste, which are included in the calculation of total urban waste produced;


Waste management

Data on disposal plants for urban waste are derived from the same sources used for information on waste production and separate collection.

Also in this case questionnaires are sent to the Regional and Provincial Agencies for Environment protection, to the Regional Administrations, to the Provincial Administrations, to the Provincial Observatories on waste production.

Population data (used for the calculation of per-capita values) as well as the main socio-economic indicators (GDP and household consumption) are derived respectively from the population balance and from the economic accounts (both released by Istat).


4. Water resources

The survey on water supply services is conducted by Istat. It is aimed at providing statistical information on the use of water resources for drinking purposes, on the treatment of urban waste water, and on the main characteristics of the water supply services in Italy.

The last survey war carried out in 2009 with reference to 2008, and received a financial contribution from the Ministry of Economic Development. It was a web-based survey that covered all operators in water services.

In order to increase the response rate (which was 84,3%) all the survey steps were constantly monitored. Phone recalls were made when necessary.

As for the data, estimates were calculated for the potential pollution load of water. Such estimates take into consideration urban waste water produced by households, hotels, tourist activities, schools, and micro-enterprises generally operating in urban centres.


5. Environmental protection

In 1893, with regional law 86, the “System of Protected Areas of Lombardy” was established. It includes:

  • 24 regional parks, of different types: river, mountain urban area, agricultural, forest;
  •  78 of over-municipal interest;
  • 65 natural reserves;
  • 29 natural monuments.

This "network” covers over 450,000 hectares of Lombardy’s territory.

At the national level, areas  characterises by high natural and environmental value are defined by law as protected areas, and therefore subject to special protection measures.

Statistics on protected areas are produced by Istat and refer to the surface of the main types of natural protected areas: national parks, government natural reserves, regional natural parks, regional natural reserves, other protected natural areas, sea areas.

Istat also collects information on forests, with reference to:

  • changes of the forest area, by type of wood and type of property;
  • forest areas cut down;
  • production of wood and timber.

Environmental protection include the protection of wild animals. In compliance with framework law on hunting n. 157 of 11 February 1992, wild animals are considered as national heritage and are to be protected.


6. Other statistics

Data in this section refer to the prevention fires and are provided by the Ministry of the Interior.

The data are collected every year and cover the whole territory with the exception of the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano, which have their own service for the prevention of fires.

The Ministry also publishes statistics on the rescue activity performed by the National Fire Brigade. Also for these statistics the data are collected every year and cover the whole territory with the exception of the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano.

The minimum territorial level for which data are available is the province.

Data aggiornamento: 
November, 2010