About 80% of Europe’s land surface has been shaped by human activities: covered with buildings, roads, industrial infrastructure or used for agriculture. The way we use land constitutes one of the main drivers of environmental degradation and climate change.

What is Copernicus Land Monitoring Service?

Copernicus is the European Union's Earth observation programme. Information from this programme is provided through six thematic services: land, marine, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management and security. All information is free and openly accessible to all users. The Land Service, provided by the EEA and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, is divided into four main components: global , pan-European, local and imagery and reference data.

Copernicus land data provides detailed information, for example, on ground motion or how urban areas, forests, snow and ice cover change over time.

Forests cover close to 40% of Europe's land area.

What happens when we cover the ground with concrete and asphalt?

European cities are growing, and with them a larger area has been covered by concrete, asphalt, buildings or other artificial surfaces. Since the mid-1950s, the total surface area of cities in the EU has increased by 78%, thus contributing greatly to soil sealing and its negative impacts.

Soil sealing can be defined as the destruction or covering of the ground by an impermeable material. It is one of the main causes of soil degradation in the EU.

Soil sealing often affects fertile agricultural land, puts biodiversity at risk, increases the risk of flooding and water scarcity and contributes to global warming.

Almost half the area of cities is sealed and about 4% of the EU's coastal regions and floodplains are impermeable, jeopardising adaptation to heatwaves and floods and decreasing carbon sequestration.

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