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Sound and independent information
on the environment

Sweden

Land use (Sweden)

Why should we care about this issue

Topic
Land Land
more info
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
Organisation name
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
Reporting country
Sweden
Organisation website
Organisation website
Contact link
Contact link
Last updated
23 Sep 2011
Content license
CC By 2.5
Content provider
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
Published: 23 Oct 2010 Modified: 11 May 2011 Feed synced: 23 Sep 2011 original
Key message

Between 1980 and 2000, the number of agribusinesses declined. The trend has also been towards fewer smaller and more larger agribusinesses.

Figures

a) Why should we care about this theme?

 

Increased concentration of agribusiness

 Between 1980 and 2000, the number of agribusinesses declined from about 118 000 to about 77 000. The trend has also been towards fewer smaller and more larger agribusinesses. In 1980 agribusinesses with arable land of 2.1–5.0 hectares accounted for 16.3 % of all agribusinesses. Agribusinesses with 100 hectares or more accounted for 2.7 % in 1980. Twenty years later, the figures were 15.3 % and 7.1 %, respectively.

The positive trend in pastures has tapered off

Pastures and mown meadows represent a large share of the cultural heritage of farmed landscapes. As a result of agriculture's rationalisation, only a small part of the pastures and meadows that existed at the turn of the previous century remain today.

The positive trend in pasture acreage that was maintained with environmental support has tapered off in recent years. The reason for this is unclear, but changes in agricultural support are important factors that impact how much land is involved. Meadow acreage maintained with environmental support has increased at a good pace since 2000, but the rate of increase has slackened since 2005.

See charts and maps (in Swedish) at the Environmental Objectives Portal for two indicators:

area of pastures with environmental support

area of meadows with environmental support

The state and impacts

Published: 23 Oct 2010 Modified: 03 Oct 2013 Feed synced: 23 Sep 2011 original
Key message

Forest land predominates, arable land is declining, and so is undeveloped land in population centres.

Figures

Figure 2

Undeveloped land in population centres 1970 to 2000 in the major cities of Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö and in all population centres, in percent.
Data source
http://www.naturvardsverket.se/upload/SENSE/SENSE2010/landuse/obebyggd_tatort2.xls
Figure 2
Fullscreen image Original link

Table 1

Changes in arable area, forest and developed land (hectares).
Data source
http://www.naturvardsverket.se/upload/SENSE/SENSE2010/landuse/changes_in_arable_land.xls
Table 1
Fullscreen image Original link

b) What are the state (S) and impacts (I) related to this theme, including impacts on the natural environment and human health/human well-being, both at national level as well as in transboundary terms?

 

Forest land predominates in Sweden

Of the country's total land area of 45 million hectares, forest land is overwhelmingly the most commonly occurring category of land, accounting for 53 %. This share has not changed significantly since 2000.

Arable land is declining

Arable land acreage is a measure of agriculture's scope. Together with the acreage of pastures and meadows, it presents a picture of how the scope of agriculture is changing over time. The amount of arable land amounted to 2.7 million hectares in 2005. In 1995 it was 2.8 million hectares. The trend over a ten-year period has been towards a gradual reduction in the acreage of arable land. The decline is greatest in Norrland and southern Sweden 's forested districts.

See chart and map (in Swedish) at the Environmental Objectives Portal for

arable land area by county.

Undeveloped land in population centres is decreasing

The share of undeveloped land in population centres has decreased for all population centres from about 44 % in 1970 to 37.3 % in 2000 (see table below). In major cities, the share has gradually decreased since 1970 from about 31 % to 26.7 % in 2000. The largest reduction has occurred in the group of population centres with more than 10 000 residents, excluding major cities. In 2000, these population centres had the same share of undeveloped land as the three major cities had in 1970.

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 23 Oct 2010 Modified: 12 May 2011 Feed synced: 23 Sep 2011 original
Key message

Population changes are an important motivating force in land use.

Figures

Table 2

Load of phosphorus to the sea from different sources.
Data source
http://www.naturvardsverket.se/upload/SENSE/SENSE2010/landuse/P_och_N_till_havet.xls
Table 2
Fullscreen image Original link

Figure 1

Population changes in population centres between 2000 and 2005, classified by size category and municipality group, changes in percent.
Data source
http://www.naturvardsverket.se/upload/SENSE/SENSE2010/landuse/befolkningsforandring2.xls
Figure 1
Fullscreen image Original link

Table 1

Load of nitrogen to the sea from different sources.
Data source
http://www.naturvardsverket.se/upload/SENSE/SENSE2010/landuse/P_och_N_till_havet.xls
Table 1
Fullscreen image Original link

c) What are the related key drivers (D) and pressures (P) at national level?

 

Population has decreased in sparsely populated municipalities

Population changes are an important motivating force in land use. A grouping of population centres by both size, category and municipality group indicates that population increases have occurred in population centres in major city municipalities, suburban municipalities, large cities and commuting municipalities, whereas populations have declined in sparsely populated municipalities, goods-producing municipalities and other smaller municipalities.

Agriculture discharges a great deal of nitrogen and phosphorus into water

The discharge of nitrogen from agriculture, industries, clearings and municipal sewage treatment plants, along with deposition of airborne nitrogen in lakes and the sea, leads to eutrophication of the sea. Agriculture is the largest source of discharges into water with respect to anthropogenic load. The biggest gross and net contributors of nitrogen and phosphorus are agriculture and forest land.

The tables below report estimated loads of nitrogen and phosphorus in water from Swedish sources in 2006, flow normalised for the 1985–2004 period. Gross refers to the supply of water in sub-watersheds (at the source), and net refers to load to the sea (after retention). Discharges from sewage treatment plants and industries directly to the coast lack retention and are included in both gross and net loads.

The 2020 outlook

Published: 23 Oct 2010 Modified: 12 May 2011 Feed synced: 23 Sep 2011 original
Key message

The farmed land areas are decreasing.

Figures

Table 1

Land area and animals for 1990, 2007 and forecast on the basis of the reference scenario Agriculture 2020 (per thousand hectares and thousand animals).
Data source
http://www.naturvardsverket.se/upload/SENSE/SENSE2010/landuse/prognos_groedor_och_djur.xls
Table 1
Fullscreen image Original link

d) What is the 2020 outlook (date flexible) for the topic in question and how will this affect possible impacts on the natural environment and human health/well-being?

 

Farmland decreases

The table on land area and animals shows projections for land areas and animals compared with actual statistics for the years 1990 and 2007. The table clearly shows how the farmed land areas are decreasing. This is a result of increased yields, fewer cattle and more effective use of feed.

Particularly notable is the reduction in grazing land, which was almost halved. To a certain extent, this is probably illusory. Between 1990 and 2007, cattle decreased and the yield from pastureland increased, but in spite of this, pasture acreage increased.

Extensive farming accounts for a significant share of the large amount of pasture acreage in 2007, and as regards emissions it is more like overgrown fallow fields.

In addition to the decrease in farmed acreage, the number of farm animals is also decreasing, according to the forecast, partly as a result of increased productivity but also due to reduced production.

Existing and planned responses

Published: 23 Oct 2010 Modified: 12 May 2011 Feed synced: 23 Sep 2011 original
Key message

Organic farming uses crop rotation and fertiliser from livestock raised organically. Areas of protected or certified forest land have increased.

Figures

e) Which responses (R) have been put in place or are planned at national level for the theme in question?

 

Land is farmed organically

The goal of organic farming is to produce food in a way that protects animals and the environment and that is competitive in the long run. In farming, chemical pesticides and artificial fertilisers are replaced by other measures, such as crop rotation and fertiliser from livestock raised organically. In 1996, the share of organically farmed land was scarcely 6 %, and in 2008 more than 16 % of arable land was farmed organically. The peak share was almost 20 % in 2006.

See chart and map (in Swedish) at the Environmental Objectives Portal for:

share of farmed land with environmental support for organic farming.

Forest land is protected

Areas of forest land that are habitat protection areas, nature reserves or covered by nature conservation agreements have increased since 1998. But the increase is not sufficient if the interim target of 'Long-term protection of forest land' is to be reached by 2010.

See charts and maps (in Swedish) at the Environmental Objectives Portal for:

habitat protection areas

nature reserves

nature conservation agreements.

Eco-labelled forests increase

Areas of forest land that are certified according to FSC or PEFC labelling have increased since 1996 from 0.4 million hectares to about 16.6 million in 2004. PEFC-labelled forests have increased since 2004 to about 7.6 million hectares in 2008. In all, there were about 24 million hectares of forest land in 2005.

Disclaimer

The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

European Environment Agency (EEA)
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Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100