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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Land take / Land take (CSI 014/LSI 001) - Assessment published Feb 2011

Land take (CSI 014/LSI 001) - Assessment published Feb 2011

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Generic metadata

Topics:

Land use Land use (Primary topic)

Natural resources Natural resources

Biodiversity Biodiversity

Tags:
leac | soer2010 | csi | urbanisation | land cover | land use | land take | urban sprawl | green economy | terrestrial environment | ecosystems | landscape
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 014
  • LSI 001
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
2000-2006
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 Switzerland Turkey United Kingdom
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: How much and in what proportions is agricultural, forest and other semi-natural and natural land being taken for urban and other artificial land development?

Key messages

Land take by the expansion of residential areas and construction sites is the main cause of the increase in the coverage of urban land at the European level. Agricultural zones and, to a lesser extent, forests and semi-natural and natural areas, are disappearing in favour of the development of artificial surfaces. This affects biodiversity since it decreases habitats, the living space of a number of species, and fragments the landscapes that support and connect them. The annual land take in 36 European countries was 111 788 ha/year in 2000-2006. In 21 countries covered by both periods (1990-2000 and 2000-2006) the annual land take increased by 9 % in the later period. The composition of land taken areas changed, too. More arable land and permanent crops, forests, grasslands and open spaces and less pastures and mosaic farmland were taken by artificial development then in 1990-2000. 

Relative contribution of land-cover categories to uptake by urban and other artificial land development

Note: Origin of land uptake as % of total uptake

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

The largest land cover category taken by urban and other artificial land development was agriculture land. On the average, almost 46 % of all areas that changed to artificial surfaces were arable land or permanent crops during 2000-2006. However, compared to the previous decade (1990-2000) in 21 countries covered both by Corine Land Cover (CLC) 1990-2000 and 2000-2006 it increased to 53 %. This dominant land take was particularly important in Denmark (90 %), Slovakia (85 %), Italy (74 %), Poland (67 %), Germany (65 %) and Hungary (65 %).

Pastures and mixed farmland were, on average, the next category being taken, representing 30.5 % of the total. It was approximately 6 % less then in 1990-2000. However, in several countries or regions, these landscapes were the major source for land uptake (in a broad sense), i.e. in Luxembourg (77 %), Albania (74 %), Ireland (70%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (70 %) and the Netherlands (60%).

The proportion of forests and transitional woodland shrub taken for artificial development during the period was slightly above 14 %. It was significantly higher in Finland (79 %), Norway (70 %), Sweden (61 %), Slovenia (61 %), Portugal (50%), Croatia (46 %) and Estonia (45 %).

The consumption of natural grassland, heathland and sclerophylous vegetation by artificial land take was 7.6 % of the whole area, but in Iceland (76 %) it was the largest taken class and significant proportions occurred also in Cyprus (23 %), Belgium (21 %) and Austria (20 %).

Open space with little or no vegetation contributed to taken land with 1.3 %. Larger proportions were in Iceland (8 %), Montenegro (7 %), Turkey (5 %), Norway (5 %) and Spain (3 %).

The least taken classes were wetlands (0.3 %) and water bodies (0.2 %). However, wetlands’ contribution in Estonia (6 %), Iceland (5 %) and Norway (3 %) was rather high.

In general, more forests, grasslands and open spaces were taken by artificial land development then in the previous decade. This meant a higher loss of natural ecosystems in 2000-2006.

Land accounts 2000-2006: http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/PivotApp/pivot.aspx?pivotid=501

Specific policy question: What are the drivers of uptake for urban and other artificial land development?

Annual land take by several types of human activity (2000-2006)

Note: Drivers of urban land development ha/year In some large countries, dates of satellite images for regions may differ by several years

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

At the European level, housing, services and recreation made up a third of the overall increase in urban and other artificial area between 2000 and 2006. Compared to the previous decade (1990-2000), in 21 countries covered in both periods this driver decreased from 52 % to 31 %. However, the proportion of new land for housing was significantly higher in Albania (95 %), Kosovo (85 %), Bosnia and Herzegovina (75 %) and it was at least 50 % in Cyprus, Romania or Ireland. The building of new sport and recreation areas was an important driver in mountain or Nordic countries as Austria (43 %), Norway (43 %), Iceland (28 %), Finland (23 %) and Sweden (22 %), to less extent also in the Mediterranean countries as Cyprus (19 %) or Bulgaria (12 %).

The second largest area (29 %) was taken by construction sites. These sites represent transitional areas that will turn into other newly urbanised classes in future. Thus large coverage of construction sites indicates a potential of further artificial development. This driver increased almost 4 times compared to period 1990-2000 (in 21 countries). Construction was a dominant driver in the Netherlands (54 %), Lithuania (54 %), Slovakia (53 %), Slovenia (51 %), Spain (50 %) and Hungary (49 %).

Land take for industrial and commercial sites covered 16 % of the whole newly developed land. In 21 countries covered in both periods it decreased from 23 % (1900-2000) to 17 % (2000-2006). The construction of new industrial and commercial sites was particularly important driver in Luxembourg (43 %), Italy (41 %), Belgium (40 %), Latvia (33 %), Slovakia (30 %) and  France (25 %).

The proportion on newly created mines, quarries and dumpsites was 15 % in 36 European countries, but it was significantly higher in Serbia (51 %), Bulgaria (50 %), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (40 %), Estonia (47 %), Latvia (33 %) and Montenegro (33 %). In 21 countries it remained stable at 14 % during both periods.

Although land take for transport infrastructures is underestimated in surveys that are based on remote sensing as Corine Land Cover, a more than double increase (from 3 % to 7 % in 21 countries covered by both periods) of the total new artificial cover supports importance of this driver. In fact, the proportions of land taken for transport were rather high in countries as Croatia (53 %), Slovenia (17 %), Portugal (17 %), Poland (15 %) and Sweden (11 %). Land take by linear features with a width below 100 m (majority of roads and railways) is not included in the statistics, which focus mostly on areal infrastructures (airports, harbours...). Soil sealing and fragmentation by linear infrastructures therefore need to be observed by other means.

Specific policy question: Where have the more important artificial land uptakes occurred?

Mean annual urban land take 2000-2006 per country as a percentage of 2000 artificial land

Note: Land cover changes in Liechtenstein remained below the detection level of Corine Land Cover change methodology. In some large countries, dates of satellite images for regions may differ by several years

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Mean annual urban land take as a percentage of total urban land take 2000-2006

Note: Land cover changes in Liechtenstein remained below the detection level of Corine Land Cover change methodology. In some large countries, dates of satellite images for regions may differ by several years

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Distribution of land take 2000-2006

Note: Map shows spatial distribution and intensity of land take for urban and other artificial land (lcf2 Urban residential sprawl + lcf3 Sprawl of economic sites and infrastructures) over particular territory in 2000 - 2006.

Data source:

CLC2000-2006 changes database http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/corine-land-cover-2000-2006

Green Potential Background in a 5km radius (2008) http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/green-potential-background-1

Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

Considering the contribution of each country to new total urban and infrastructure sprawl in Europe, mean annual values range from 21.4 % (Spain) to 0.001% (Malta), with intermediate values in France (12.9 %), Germany (10.1 %) and Italy (7.4 %). Differences between countries are strongly related to their size and population density (Figure 3).

The pace of land take observed by comparing it with the initial extent of urban and other artificial areas in 2000 gives another picture (Figure 4). From this perspective, the average value in 36 European countries covered by CLC 2000-2006 ranges up to an annual increase of 0.6% (in 21 countries covered by both periods it remains also 0.6 %). Urban development is fastest in Albania (5.0 % increase in urban area per year), Iceland (3.3 %), Spain (2.7 %), Cyprus (2.6 %) and Ireland (2.4 %). Compared to the previous period 1990-2000, Spain speeded up by 0.8 %, Ireland slowed down by 0.5 %, Portugal by 1.2 % (now 1.6 %), and the Netherlands by 0.3 % (now 1.3 %).

Land uptake by urban and other artificial development in 36 European countries amounted to 686 414 hectares in 6 years. It represents 0.1% of the total territory of these countries. This may seem low, but spatial differences are very important and an artificial sprawl in many regions is very intense (Figure 5).

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Branislav Olah

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 2.6.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 6 years in April-June (Q2)
Document Actions
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100