Land use (Serbia )
Why should we care about this issue
Land - Why care?
Soil is a multi-functional system consisting of organic and non-organic substances, live organisms and the products of their interaction. Land use often leads to disturbance of the balance of specific soil components, which furthermore brings about the process of its degradation.
The soil in Serbia is very heterogeneous as a result of different geological platforms, climate, vegetation and pedofauna. There are nine edaphic climatic regions in the territory of Serbia. In each of the respective regions, several soil types are represented and their combinations reflect the general characteristics of these units.
The state and impacts
What are the state (S) and impacts (I) related to land, including impacts on the natural environment and human health/well-being, both at national level as well as in transboundary terms?
The analysis of Corine Land Cover database for 2006 revealed that agricultural areas dominate in Serbia, spreading over 58% of the country. About 26% is occupied by arable land, 16% by complex cultivation and 13% by principally agricultural land with areas of natural vegetation. According to Serbian land use statistics, the Republic of Serbia has 5 093 000 ha of utilised agricultural land and 3 302 000 ha of arable land (Table 1 and 2).
|Year||Total||Arable fields and gardens||Orchards||Vineyards||Meadows||Pastures||Fish ponds, reeds, marshland|
|Year||Arable fields and gardens||Sown area||Nurseries||fish ponds, reeds, marshland|
|Total||Cereals||Industrial crops||Vegetable crops||Fooder crops|
Semi-natural and forest areas cover almost 40% of the country (broad-leaved forest account for 27%). Land classified as artificial areas occupies nearly 3% and the rest of national territory, about 1.6% was classified as wetlands or water.
The analysis of land cover categories taken by urban and other artificial land development in Serbia from 1990 to 2006 (Table 3, Figures 1 and 2) shows that pastures and mixed farmland were the categories mostly used for urban and other artificial land development.
|Pastures and mixed farmland||2818||2280||5098|
|Arable land and permanent crops||2468||939||3407|
|Open spaces with little or no vegetation||0||0||0|
|Natural grassland, heathland, sclerophylous vegetation||12||3||15|
|Forest and transitional woodland shrub||546||1066||1612|
The key drivers and pressures
Land - Drivers and Pressures
The population of Serbia has constantly and gradually decreased since 1991. The 1991 census recorded 7 576 837 inhabitants, but, by mid 2008, this had decreased to 7 350 222. This decrease is a consequence of a long-standing trend of low birth rates (not including the statistics from the autonomous region of Kosovo and Metohija, Statistical Yearbook of Serbia, 2009) (Figure 1).
In 2008, excluding the AP of Kosovo and Metohija, there were 4 719 settlements. There were 181 urban settlements, 3.84 % of the total number of settlements, with around 60 % of the total population, with a gradual increasing trend (Source: Statistical Yearbook of Serbia, 2009 and Municipalities in Serbia, 2007, SORS).
Land used by housing, services and recreation in Serbia (Table 1, Figure 2) was 351 ha/year in the period 1990 to 2006, industrial and commercial sites were responsible for 127 ha/year, transport networks and infrastructures, 2 ha/year, and mines, quarries and waste dumpsites used 239 ha/year in the same period.
According to Serbian land use statistics, Serbia has 5 093 192 ha of agricultural land. It consists mostly of arable land and gardens covering 3 302 089 ha, which makes up 64.8 % of the total area. As a result of monitoring arable land in the period 2000–08, a declining trend in arable land, gardens and vineyards is seen, while meadows are increasing. Pastureland was reduced between 2006 and 2008 (Statistical Yearbook of Serbia, 2009).
Changes in the structure of arable fields in the period 1997–2008 have shown a reduction of area of wheat production from 64.4 % in 1997 to 58.7 % in 2008. The share of area used by industrial plants increased from 8.9 % in 1997 to 12.6 % in 2008, but there has been a decrease in comparison with 2006.
Based on the above data, it can be concluded that total arable land in Serbia was decreasing until 2007. The reason for this is a reduction in the number of vineyards and orchards. In 2008, there were more cultivated areas showing an increase in arable land and gardens, orchards and meadows.
An increase in erosion is one of the major causes of land degradation and its consequent degraded quality. It is estimated that erosion (to varying degrees) affects up to 80 % of agricultural soil in Serbia. While in the central and hilly mountainous regions water is the predominant cause of erosion, in Vojvodina it is the wind. Approximately 85 % of agricultural soil in Vojvodina is affected by wind erosion with an annual loss of over 0.9 tonne material/ha (Vidojević and Manojlovic, 2007).
The density of the motorway (highway) network in Serbia (expressed as km per 1 000 km2) is 8.26 km/1 000 km2. The density of the railway network is 49.2 km/1 000 km2 (Statistical Yearbook of Serbia, 2009).
According to the analysis of the Serbian Environmental Protection Agency (State of the Soil in the Republic of Serbia, 2009), there are currently 375 potentially contaminated sites. The greatest number of registered sources of localised soil pollution is related to municipal waste disposal sites, oil extraction and storage sites, industrial and commercial sites. The municipal waste disposal site database was updated in 2005. There are 164 municipal waste disposal sites on the territory of Serbia which present a potential source of soil and groundwater pollution. The greatest part of identified polluted soil localities within industry (Figure 3) belongs to the oil industry (59.2 %), followed by the chemical industry (15.2 %) and the metalworking industry (13.3 %).
The 2020 outlook
Land - 2020 Outlook
The main objective for the further development of land use planning in Serbia, provided in the Spatial Development Strategy of the Republic of Serbia (draft version, 2009), is the rational use of land — to stop further degradation, to suppress unplanned construction and to protect endangered areas. Strategic planning priorities for land use by 2020 do not foresee an increase in construction land, keeping its existing share of total reserves at 9.5 %. The level of Serbian territory planted as forests should reach 41 % compared to the current 29.1 %; in other words, Serbia will gain 90 000 ha of forest. Agricultural land will cover 45.2 %, while other land uses will cover 4.3 % of the territory of Serbia.
Existing and planned responses
Land - Responses
Land protection has been secured in various policy documents in Serbia. The Law on Environmental Protection (Official Journal of the Republic of Serbia No 135/04) defines criteria for the establishment of endangered environment status, as well as the regime for its rehabilitation and remediation. The status of particularly endangered environment as well as priority areas for the implementation of rehabilitation and remediation actions are determined by the government. In the Law on Environmental Protection there is a part related to the protection of natural resources which includes Article 22 related to soil protection.
No specific legislation exists in Serbia regarding soil and groundwater contamination and criteria for remediation; there are regulations on the permitted amounts of hazardous and harmful substances in soil and water for irrigation and methods for their testing (Official Journal of the Republic of Serbia No 23/94) which regulate soil quality in terms of hazardous chemical substances content.
The Law on planning and construction (Official Journal of the Republic of Serbia No 72/09) regulates civil engineering, technical, technological and other conditions under which the works must be carried out, preparation of technical documentation, methods and procedures of construction and the issuance of permits, construction of objects and other issues relevant for construction and utilisation of such objects.
The Law on agricultural soil (Official Journal of the Republic of Serbia No 62/06) regulates planning, protection, management and usage of agricultural soil as well as inspection to ensure application of the law.
The strategic objectives of sustainable land use (National Sustainable Development Strategy, 2008) include:
1. the harmonisation of legislation relating to the land use and soil protection with EU legislation,
2. preventing further loss of land, preservation and soil quality improvement,
3. protection from degradation and land-use changes
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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