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One of the main objectives of the Barcelona Provincial Council (Diputació de Barcelona), developed primarily through the Department of Territory and Sustainability, is promoting territorial balance and sustainability. In this context, one of the lines of work of the Technical Office for Planning and Territorial Analysis is to improve knowledge of the open areas in the province of Barcelona. The ultimate aim is to provide information and criteria to support local administrations in their land planning and management responsibilities and to strengthen their participation in regional projects affecting them. Since 2001, Barcelona Provincial Council has therefore been drawing up a territorial information system, the project SITxell (acronym in Catalan for Territorial Information System for the Network of Open Areas in the province of Barcelona), which contains a categorization and assessment of non-urban land based on the analysis of its ecological and socio-economic characteristics.

SITxell is a cartographic and alphanumeric database on a 1:50 000 scale, run on Arcgis software, which helps with the study, analysis, evaluation and planning of the open areas in the province of Barcelona. The conceptual basis of this tool lies in the conviction that the open spaces as a whole are the basic territorial system, upon which settlement and infrastructure systems must properly be placed, so that open areas maintain their key ecological and socio-economic functions. It is therefore essential to understand the main features of these areas - both their intrinsic characteristics and the attributes associated with overall processes within the network of open spaces.

On the technical side, SITxell is a project concerning territorial analysis, which is structured through different layers of geographical information and intended to study and evaluate the open areas of the province. On a political level, SITxell is a tool intended to influence land planning processes, on both local and regional scales, by providing accurate and reliable socio-economic and ecological information and criteria for plans and projects developed by the competent authorities. The success and influence of SITxell since its launch have been based, firstly, on the strength and usefulness of the information, applicable in land use planning at different scales and in other specific types of planning (water, agriculture, conservation of habitats and species, strategic environmental assessment, etc.). Secondly, strong partnerships with various levels of government, universities, research centres and private sector (specialized consultants, farmers associations and NGOs) have been established, that have ensured the quality of information and the maximum objectivity of analysis.

In recent years, this commitment to integrating the conservation of natural values in land use policies (especially in land planning) has spread to many countries in Europe. In this context, the SITxell project has been shown in various forums (DG Environment of the European Community, European Institute of Public Administration, EIPA) as an example of good practice in making the protection of nature compatible with human land uses.

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Àrea de Territori i Sostenibilitat
Comte d'Urgell 187, 3a planta, Edifici Rellotge
08036 Barcelona. Tel. 934 022 896