Land use - State and impacts (Croatia)
The total area of the Republic of Croatia is 87,661 km2, of which 56,594 km2 is land, and 31,067 km2 sea and internal sea waters (18 981 km2 of territorial waters, and 12 498 km2 internal sea waters). Total coastline length is 5,835 km.
The lowland areas up to 200 m a.s.l. account for 53% of the land, hilly areas and hill slopes between 200 and 500 m a.s.l. account for 26%, and highland and mountainous regions above 500 m a.s.l. account for 21% of land. The land assets include 1,242 islands and islets as well as almost 4,000 km of rivers and 5,900 m3 of renewable drinking water per capita a year.
The karst region which is a specific form of relief occupies about 54% of territory. Karst phenomena and forms are particularly developed in limestones of highland and coastal Croatia and, as an isolated phenomenon, in the Sava- Drava River basin.
Out of total territory, 8.5% of natural areas are under some form of permanent or preventive protection (8 national parks, 2 regional parks, and 11 nature parks account for about 78% of protected areas) .
Forests are the Croatian assets that belong to the renewable natural resources. Since they cover about 47% of land, they are particularly important with regard to the environmental protection.
According to the CLC 2006 Land Cover map, the majority of the total Croatian territory is occupied either by forest and shrubs (26,487.6 km2 or 46.8%) or heterogeneous agricultural land (18,452 km2 or 32.6%). The areas under bush and grass cover (4,742.1 km2 or 8.4%), arable land and permanent crops (4,389.1 km2 or 7.8%) and artificial surfaces (1,774.5 km2 or 3.1%) are present in lower percentages. The lower share is occupied by inland waters (539.3 km2 or 1.0%) and marshland (200 km2 or 0.4%). According to the CLC 1990, CLC 2000 and CLC 2006 data and in comparison with many EU countries, Croatia did not suffer any dramatic changes in 2006 compared to earlier years, i.e. 1980, 1990 and 2000 .
The artificial surfaces account for 3 % or 177,453 ha only. This is an area change of 9,020 ha in this area category recorded during the period 2000-2006. A comparison of CLC data for the same period shows that all area categories were growing except for artificial, non-agricultural vegetation (urban vegetation and sports and recreational facilities) which reduced. In the period 1990-2000, 4,738 ha of agricultural and forest land had its use permanently changed, and in the 2000-2006 period 8,050 ha. The main drivers of land take in both periods were building of settlements and roads and the expansion of industrial and commercial zones, and related setting up of construction sites and pits.
In the 1990-2000 period, changes to agricultural land affected almost all the categories, except irrigated plough land and orchards, and involved a total area of 31,280 ha. Significantly less change was recorded in the 2000-2006 period, when the change of use involved 13,067 ha in all the categories except irrigated arable land. The most important driver of change of use in this period was the expansion of areas used for farming, and development of infrastructure and settlements. In recent years, the Mediterranean region of Croatia there has seen a trend of forestland conversion to agricultural land, primarily for permanent crops.
The extent of Mine Suspected Areas (MSA) - the consequence of combat operations during the Homeland War - is currently 954.5 km2, which is a decrease compared to 2005 when the area covered 1,147.00 km2.
This document is part of the SOER 2015 product.