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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010 / Country assessments / Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Land use (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)

Why should we care about this issue

Land Land
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

Economic activities such as agriculture, forestry, transport, manufacturing and housing use land and alter its natural state and functions. These activities, in general, lower the quality of land, which is difficult and time-consuming to restore. Land use has impacts on climate change, biodiversity loss and the degradation and pollution of water, soils and air.

The state and impacts

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011


Figure 2: Land cover changes (ha), period 1990-2006, according to the CLC Nomenclature

Data source
Figure 2: Land cover changes (ha), period 1990-2006, according to the CLC Nomenclature
Fullscreen image Original link

Map 1: Geographycal distribution of land cover changes, period 1990-2006, according to the CLC nomenclature

Data source
Map 1: Geographycal distribution of land cover changes, period 1990-2006, according to the CLC nomenclature
Fullscreen image Original link
The Republic’s total area is 25 713 km2 which, according to CORINE Land Cover (CLC) 2006, has the following land distribution:

Table 1: Land distribution, according to the CLC Nomenclature


Land Cover, Level 1

Percentage of total territory


Artificial surfaces






Forest and Semi-natural areas









Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia did not take part in CLC2000. However, the CLC1990 inventory, completed in 2000, based on the images of 1995-1996, was accepted as CLC2000. All the figures about changes presented here are based on these data.

The CLC changes between 1990 and 2006 cover an area of about 35 565 ha, which is around 1.4 % of the total area of the country.

During the period 1990-2006, the trends of increases of artificial surfaces, wetlands and water bodies and decreases of agricultural areas, forests and semi-natural areas were similar to those during the previous decade.


Table 2: Land cover changes (ha), period 1990-2006, according to the CLC Nomenclature





Total change


Artificial Surfaces


2 624

2 239


Agricultural Areas

7 423

4 516

-2 907


Forest and Semi-natural Areas

27 564

26 720








Water Bodies


1 569

1 488

Changes in land structure connected with agriculture, as well as increases of artificial surfaces, uptake or soil sealing have negative environmental impacts. Such changes cause loss of soil as a resource supporting food production, and decrease both biodiversity and carbon sinks.


It is evident that the main impact is on agricultural areas, presented on Table 3.


Table 3: Main land cover changes, period 1990-2006,  according to the CLC nomenclature

Class from

Class to


Agriculture areas

Artificial surfaces

1 823

Forest and semi-natural areas

Artificial surfaces


A more detailed view of these changes is given in the Figure 3.

Legend of Figure 3: CLC Codes description

CLC Code


CLC Code



Discontinuous urban fabric




Industrial or commercial units


Complex cultivation patterns


Road and rail networks and associated land


Land principally occupied by agriculture, with significant areas of natural vegetation


Mineral extraction sites


Broad-leaved forest


Dump sites


Coniferous forest


Construction sites


Mixed forest


Sport and leisure facilities


Natural grassland


Non-irrigated arable land


Moors and heathland




Transitional woodland/shrub


The main negative impact is on complex cultivation areas (CLC Code 242) with more than 40% change from agriculture areas to artificial surfaces.

The other main change, of around 35 %, is to non-irrigated arable land (CLC Code 211).

It is interesting that a large part of the changes are to pastures (CLC code 231), where changes are to mineral extraction sites (CLC code 131) and dump sites (CLC code 132) with only a small number changed to construction sites (CLC code 133). These trends are in direct relation to the:

  • increased number of permits issued by the Ministry of Economy for exploitation of mineral sites;
  • problems in local self-government with setting-up dump sites, especially after the process of decentralisation.

Spatial distributions of these changes are shown on the Map 1.

It is evident that the biggest part of the changes occurred in the west part of the country. This corresponds to the rapid economic development in this area.

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

The main driving forces that generate pressures on land use are economic sectors like agriculture, transport, as well as the high level of urbanisation. The pressure level of the specific driving forces varies in different parts of the country.

The pressures on the agriculture area can be categorised as:

  • land abandonment, mainly caused by changes in land ownership. Land managed by co-operatives and enterprises returned to private owners, only a small number of whom were interested in agriculture;
  • low level or absence of support and subsidies for agriculture. As a result, some agricultural enterprises collapsed and  new ones were not established;
  • establishment of new reservoirs such as the Kozjak artificial lake of approximately13 km2 – part of the country’s strategy based on the Vardar Valley Project.

Urban spread of housing and commercial sites has occurred around larger cities, mainly the capitol Skopje and cities in the west of the country.

A small part of land take is for transport development, mostly linked to the construction of highways.

The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

Although there are various policy documents that aim to protect land and the environment as a whole, there is no clear outlook for land use, which is likely to be influenced by different economic impacts.

The current strategy for the support of agricultural development, which is almost certain to continue, will lead to the exploitation of abandoned agricultural land as well as better utilisation of existing agricultural land.

There is also the possibility of moderate development of the transport network, as well as of commercial and industrial sites, to the detriment of arable land.

Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

Land protection in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been secured through various policy documents, concepts, strategies and legislative measures.

Under the Law on Environment (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia No.53/05, 81/05), every citizen is entitled to have access to environmental information, including data on land cover. The law also facilitates uniform access to such information, both at national and European levels. In addition to the provisions of this law, the provisions of special laws regulating specific environmental media and areas also apply to the protection and improvement of the quality and condition of soil, water, and air. The aims of the law relevant to land management include rational and sustainable utilisation of natural resources, preservation of a clean environment and remediation of damage, prevention of environmental risks and hazards, combating desertification and mitigating the effects of droughts.

Based on the Law on Land Survey and Registration, regular annual land survey information is provided on the types of land cover, which enables continuous justification of the land cover changes.

The Law on Agricultural Land (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia No. 135/07) regulates agricultural land use, disposal, protection and change of use. The aims of this law include rational use of agricultural land as a limited natural resource and its protection. As a resource of general interest for the country, agricultural land enjoys special protection and may be used only under the terms and in a manner provided for by the law.

Building land is also regarded a resource of general interest for the country under the law and the terms and the manner of its use are therefore legally regulated and controlled Law on Building Land (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia No.82/08)).

All development activities have to be based on spatial and urban plans developed under the Law on Spatial and Urban Planning (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia No.24/08). These plans are intended to provide for land planning, development and use, as well as protection and improvement of the environment and nature, the protection of immovable cultural heritage, and protection against damage by war, natural and technological disasters and accidents. As activities of public interest under the law, elaboration, adoption and implementation of the Spatial Plan of the Republic of Macedonia, as well as the application of other relevant regulations of national legislation, international agreements and other documents ratified by the Republic, have the ultimate goal of providing sustainable development for the country.


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