Are European natural/semi-natural lands becoming more fragmented? Are forest landscapes becoming more fragmented?

Policy Question
Indicator codes: SEBI 013

Key messages

(12 Apr 2015)

  • European ‘core natural/semi-natural’ lands became more fragmented in most countries and on average between 2000 and 2006. Their 1 km2 surroundings developed towards a ‘mixed natural’ and/or ‘some natural’ mosaic pattern with agriculture and/or artificial lands. During this time period, the loss of the core natural landscape pattern, due to the spread of artificial and/or agricultural areas, occurred particularly in parts of southern (southwestern Spain, southern Portugal, Sicily), western (Great Britain), central (western Austria) and eastern (western Romania) Europe.
  • In 2006, 35% of European forest lands were fragmented i.e. distributed as a mixed landscape mosaic pattern where forest is intermingled with natural/semi-natural non forested lands, agriculture and artificial lands in their 1 km2 surroundings. On average in Europe, between the years 2000 and 2006, forests in a ‘core natural’ landscape pattern became more fragmented towards a mixed landscape mosaic pattern, even if this trend was not observed for more than one third of European countries.
  • Although more than 40% of European landscape units reported a net forest area increase during between 2000 and 2006, only in one third of the units did this gain result in a significant increase in forest connectivity. In most countries, the trend of the units in a high connectivity range was either stable or showed a decrease during this period. Landscapes with poorly connected woodlands represented more than 60% of the EU in 2006.

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