Landscapes in transition — An account of 25 years of land cover change in Europe

Publication Created 07 Jul 2017 Published 07 Sep 2017
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Landscape is one of the most precious assets contributing to Europe's cultural identity. As landscape is determined to a large extent by land use, the study of land use changes, especially through changes in the land cover, provides clues to the drivers of the transitions that landscape is currently going through. New data on land cover change in Europe up to 2012 show that total land cover change increased from the 2000‑2006 period to the 2006‑2012 period.
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Publication Created 07 Jul 2017 Published 07 Sep 2017
1 min read
EEA Report No 10/2017
Landscape is one of the most precious assets contributing to Europe's cultural identity. As landscape is determined to a large extent by land use, the study of land use changes, especially through changes in the land cover, provides clues to the drivers of the transitions that landscape is currently going through. New data on land cover change in Europe up to 2012 show that total land cover change increased from the 2000‑2006 period to the 2006‑2012 period.

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    Land take Land take Land take as a result of the expansion of residential areas and construction sites is the main cause of the increase in urban land coverage in Europe. Agricultural zones and, to a lesser extent, forests and semi-natural and natural areas are disappearing in favour of the development of artificial surfaces. This affects biodiversity since it decreases habitats and fragments the landscapes that support and connect them. Between 2006 and 2012, the annual land take in the European countries (EEA-39) assessed in the 2012 Corine land cover (CLC) project was approximately 107 000 ha/year. The figure for the 2000-2006 period was approximately 118 000 ha/year. In the 28 countries 1 covered by all three CLC assessment periods (1990-2000, 2000-2006 and 2006-2012), annual land take decreased by 10.5 % between 2000 and 2006, and by 13.5 % between 2006 and 2012. In absolute values, the annual land take in these 28 countries was 114 000 ha/year (1990-2000), 102 000 ha/year (2000-2006) and 98 500 ha/year (2006-2012). Between 2000 and 2006, more arable land and permanent crops were taken by artificial development than between 1990 and 2000, while fewer pastures and less mosaic farmland were taken over the same period. In fact, between 2006 and 2012, the types of land most taken for artificial development were arable land and permanent crops, followed by pastures and mixed agricultural areas.   1 The 28 countries covered by all three CLC assessment periods are AT, BE, BG, CZ, DE, DK, ES, EE, FR, GR, HR, HU, IE, IT, LT, LU, LV, ME, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, RS, SI, SK, TR and UK.

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