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Ecosystem coverage (SEBI 004) - Assessment published May 2010

Indicator Assessment Created 10 Sep 2009 Published 21 May 2010 Last modified 19 Feb 2015, 09:34 AM
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Generic metadata


Biodiversity Biodiversity (Primary topic)

land cover | wetlands | biodiversity | belgrade
DPSIR: State
Typology: N/A
Indicator codes
  • SEBI 004
Temporal coverage:
1990, 2000
Geographic coverage:
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYR), Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom

Key policy question: Which changes are occurring in the distribution of Europe's ecosystems and habitats?

Key messages

Built-up areas, infrastructure and woodland are increasing whilst agricultural land, semi-natural and natural habitats decrease. The overall statistics hide more detailed transition patterns. Wetlands, for example, are mainly changing into forest; other (semi-)natural areas primarily give way to agriculture.

Land cover change between 1990 and 2000 — area change for major habitat classes

Note: The number in brackets indicates the total area change in hectares.

Data source:

1) EEA (European Environment Agency), 2005. The European environment State and outlook 2005. EEA, Copenhagen. 2) EUNIS.

Downloads and more info

Changes in land cover between 1990 and 2000: previous status of newly urban land

Note: Based on Corine Land Cover data

Data source:

EEA, LEAC (Land and Ecosystems Accounts).

Downloads and more info

Conversion of wetlands into other classes, 1990-2000

Note: Based on Corine Land Cover data

Data source:

EEA, LEAC (Land and Ecosystems Accounts).

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Figure 1 shows changes in land cover between 1990 and 2000. A large part of west and central Europe has effectively become urban in character. In many areas of lowland Europe and along the coasts, existing urban centres are sprawling to form much larger settlements. In many places, agriculture has been marginalised as an economic activity, often with resulting land abandonment. Elsewhere new areas may be taken into production but on average the loss caused by land abandonment outweighs this.

Forest cover has generally increased. It has been growing at a rate of about 8 000 - 9 000 km2 per year since 1990. This expansion has primarily happened in the EU and EFTA, mainly due to decreasing pressure from grazing and spontaneous re-growth, as well as afforestation of abandoned agricultural land.


Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Katarzyna Biala


EEA Management Plan

2010 1.2.2 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 6 years in October-December (Q4)


European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100