Land use - National Responses (Germany)

SOER 2010 Common environmental theme (Deprecated) expired
Topics: ,
This content has been archived on 21 Mar 2015, reason: A new version has been published
Land Land
more info
German Federal Environment Agency
Organisation name
German Federal Environment Agency
Reporting country
Organisation website
Organisation website
Contact link
Contact link
Last updated
23 Nov 2010
Content license
CC By 2.5
Content provider
German Federal Environment Agency
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 21 Mar 2015 Feed synced: 23 Nov 2010 original


The progressive use of new land and landscape dissection by the construction of traffic routes leads to habitat destruction and fragmentation – a principal cause of the continual loss of biological diversity.

Consequently, there is a need to counteract the rise in transport volume through environmentally friendly land-use planning, to decouple the amount of traffic (tonnes kilometres, passenger kilometres) from economic performance (gross domestic product GDP) and to ensure that mobility is environmentally friendly and makes sparing use of resources.

The principal determinants of traffic growth – settlement structure, trade links, changed lifestyles, and the availability of a transport infrastructure – must be influenced through the following measures:

  • Functionally mixed towns and cities in which people not only work and make purchases but which are also sufficiently attractive to serve as residential and recreational locations and contribute to a settlement structure that is more compact in terms of its buildings and is consequently low in traffic. Fiscal incentives, for example, can reduce the amount of new areas required for settlement purposes, encourage the reutilisation of brown-field sites and increase building density.
  • In order to ensure mobility and an optimal supply of goods with the least possible impact on the environment for all population groups, measures intended to shift the traffic to less polluting means of transport – rail, bus, bicycle, walking – must be implemented.
  • The transfer of freight traffic from road to rail and ship has not yet been adequately achieved, although a trend towards an increasingly large share for rail – 1991: 20.6 %, 2001: 15.7 %, 2008: 17.3 % – has been observed since 2001. However, given that, in absolute terms, the total amount of road transport (tonnes kilometres) is rising rapidly, the railways’ share of goods transport is increasing too slowly for the target of the Federal Government to be met by the agreed deadline. According to the sustainability strategy, the share of freight transport by rail should account for 25 % of the total freight transport performance by 2015 – and the share of inland waterways transport is actually falling (2001: 12.6 %, 2008: 9.6 %). Here the target of the Federal Government for 2015 is 14 %.

Integrated coastal zone management – National ICZM strategy

On 22 March 2006, the Federal Government adopted a national strategy for integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) in Germany and in so doing implemented a corresponding recommendation by the EU (Recommendation 2002/413/EC).

As a process and instrument, ICZM is intended to bring together the various economic and social demands for the utilisation of the coastal region – fisheries, shipping, port management, industry and trade, land-based traffic infrastructure, agriculture and forestry, wind power, settlement development, tourism, etc. – and the interests involved in the protection of the coastal region – prevention of pollutant discharges, economical use of the ‘area’ resource, nature conservation, flood prevention – and at an early stage to highlight development opportunities, potential conflicts and solutions to these conflicts. In view of the increasing utilisation pressure, the aim is to develop the coastal region, both on the seaward side and on shore, in an environmentally compatible and economically sustainable manner, bearing in mind the efficiency and capacity of the coastal environment.

Innovative instruments: tradable land-use certificates

The objection levelled against binding quantitative targets for spatial planning is that they are too inflexible to permit an on-the-spot reaction to unforeseeable economic or social requirements and developments. In order to introduce greater flexibility and to meet 30 ha/day in the increase in the take-up of land by 2020 target, the introduction of a trade in area quotas has also been proposed, along similar lines to the tradable certificates in the area of climate protection. The controlling effect of traditional planning remains in force at the same time, however, so that protected areas, designated areas and priority areas retain their integrity.

In the year 2009, the new Federal Government decided in the coalition agreement between the governing parties (=program of the newly installed government, negociated between CDU, CSU and FDP), on the basis of research results and pilot projects, to embark on a nationwide pilot project for the trade in area quotas. Preparations for this will be made in the next few months. The Federal Environment Agency is actively involved in the preliminary work for this pilot project.

Enormous potential of brown-field sites within localities for internal development

The 30 ha/day target of the Federal Government means that any future use of land for new development must be transferred from outlying areas (=greenfields) into the interior areas, by allocating new developments to existing empty sites or redundant abandoned sites or by moderate infill on previously developed sites. In the event of a constant demand, and in order to meet the 30 ha/day target, three quarters of any new developments would have to be allocated in future to the inner areas of agglomerations and one quarter to the outlying area.


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

Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100