istituzioni europee

Updated figures on land take

Land Take refers to the concept of the occupation and use of farmland for purposes other than farming or forestry, to build infrastructure, homes, industrial buildings and so on.

Land take occurs above all in peri-urban areas, where the demand for new infrastructure is high and soil quality, for historical reasons of human settlement, is good.

The most recent figures on the situation regarding land take in the EU were published by the European Enviornment Agency last December. They have been published on the Agency’s website and provide interactive information and data on land take in the 39 countries that are members of the Agency including the 28 (now 27) that belong to the EU.

In brief:

  • Despite a reduction in the last decade (land take was over 1000km2/year in 2000-2006), land take in EU28 still amounted to 539km2/year between 2012 and 2018.
  • The net land take concept combines land take with land return to non-artificial land categories (re-cultivation). While some land was re-cultivated in the EU-28 in the period 2000-2018, 11 times more land was taken.
  • Between 2000 and 2018, 78 % of land take in the EU-28 affected agricultural areas, i.e. arable lands and pastures, and mosaic farmlands.
  • From 2000 to 2018, land take consumed 0.6 % of all arable lands and permanent crops, 0.5 % of all pastures and mosaic farmlands, and 0.3 % of all grasslands into urban areas.
  • In proportion to their area, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Albania saw the largest amount of land take between 2000 and 2018.
  • The re-cultivation of land increased from 2012 to 2018, led by Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Belgium.
  • The main drivers of land take during 2000-2018 were industrial and commercial land use as well as extension of residential areas and construction sites.

EEA ItalyThe explanatory text is followed by the data, which is available both globally and for individual countries. The data is interactive and can be downloaded with details relating to the particular use of the soil that has been lost.

The EEA estimates that between 2000 and 2018, around 14,000 km2 were lost, equivalent to more than 1,400,000 hectares or 171 m2/sec (the underlining of sec is ours). During this period Italy lost 95,000 hectares, but the rate of loss decreased, from almost 49,000 hectares (2000-2006) to 35,000 (2006-2012) and falling to almost 12,000 (2012-2018).

Looking at this data reminded us of the Turkish proverb: When the axe came into the forest, many trees said: “At least the handle is one of us!” Small consolation! And meanwhile land take continues …