Personal tools

next
previous
items

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Land take / Land take (CSI 014) - Assessment published Nov 2005

Land take (CSI 014) - Assessment published Nov 2005

Generic metadata

Topics:

Land use Land use (Primary topic)

Natural resources Natural resources

Biodiversity Biodiversity

Tags:
soer2010 | terrestrial environment | csi
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 014
Geographic coverage:
Austria Belgium Bulgaria Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden 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 artificial areas and related infrastructure is the main cause of the increase in the coverage of 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.

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

Note: In some large countries, dates of satellite images for regions may differ by several years

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

The largest land-cover category being taken by urban and other artificial land development (average for 23 European countries) is agriculture land. During 1990-2000, 48% of all areas that changed to artificial surfaces were arable land or permanent crops. This process is particularly important in Denmark (80 %) and Germany (72 %). Pastures and mixed farmland are, on average, the next category being taken, representing 36% of the total. However, in several countries or regions, these landscapes are the major source for land-take (in a broad sense), for example in Ireland (80%) and the Netherlands (60%).
 
The proportion of forested and natural land taken for artificial development during the period is important in Portugal (35%), Spain (31%) and Greece (23%).

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

Land take by several types of human activity per year in 23 European countries, 1990-2000

Note: 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 make up half of the overall increase in urban and other artificial area between 1990 and 2000. But the situation varies, from countries with proportions of new  land take for housing, services and recreation higher than 70% (Luxembourg and Ireland) to countries like Greece (16%) and Poland (22%) where urban development is, instead, due mainly to industrial/commercial activity.
Industrial/commercial sites is the next sector responsible for land take, with 31% of the average European new land uptake during the period. However, this sector is taking the largest proportion of new uptake in Belgium (48%), Greece (43%) and Hungary (32%).
Land take for mines, quarries and waste dumpsites was relatively important in countries with low artificial land take during the 1990-2000 period as well as in Poland (43%) where mines are a key sector of the economy. At the European level, the percentage of the total new land take for mines, quarries and waste dumpsites is 14%.
Land take for transport infrastructures (3.2% of the total new artificial cover) is underestimated in surveys that are based on remote-sensing like Corine Land Cover (CLC). Land take by linear features such as roads and railways is not included in the statistics, which focus only on area infrastructures (airports, harbours....). Soil sealing and fragmentation by linear infrastructures therefore need to be observed by different means.

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

Mean annual urban land take as a percentage of total Europe-23 urban land take 1990-2000

Note: 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 1990-2000 as a percentage of 1990 artificial land

Note: In some large countries, dates of satellite images for regions may differ by several years

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

Land uptake by urban and other artificial development in the 23 European countries covered by Corine Land Cover 2000 amounted to 917 224 hectares in 10 years. It represents 0.3% of the total territory of these countries. This may seem low, but spatial differences are very important and urban sprawl in many regions is very intense.

Considering the contribution of each country to new total urban and infrastructure sprawl in Europe, mean annual values range from 22% (Germany) to 0.02% (Latvia), with intermediate values in France (15%), Spain (13.3%) and Italy (9.1%). 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 1990 gives another picture (Figure 4). From this perspective, the average value in the 23 European countries covered by CLC2000 ranges up to an annual increase of 0.7%. Urban development is fastest in Ireland (3.1% increase in urban area per year), Portugal (2.8%), Spain (1.9%) and the Netherlands (1.6%). However, this comparison reflects different initial conditions; for example Ireland had a very small amount of urban area in 1990 and the Netherlands one of the largest in Europe. Urban sprawl in new Member States is generally lower than in the EU-15 countries, in absolute and relative terms.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Jean-Louis Weber

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Document Actions

Comments

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