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The European environment – state and outlook 2010

The European environment – state and outlook 2010

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Land - Drivers and pressures (SOER 2010)

What are the related key drivers and pressures at national level?

Since the post-WW2 period, urbanisation has been fuelled by economic and demographic growth. The role of these economic and social drivers is described hereunder in three sections. Section 2.1 shows the evolution of the various built-up area components. Section 2.2 describes and explains the tremendous increase in the residential area and the role of social drivers. Section 2.3 describes the extension of road infrastructure that is responsible for the land artificialisation and fragmentation (2.2).

 

Built-up area components in Belgium

Key message

There has been high growth rate of residential, industrial and commercial land, with residential land being the largest built-up area in Belgium

Figures

Figure 3: Built-up area used for different functions in Belgium, 1985 and 2009

Figure 3: Built-up area used for different functions in Belgium, 1985 and 2009
Data source
http://statbel.fgov.be/fr/modules/publications/statistiques/environnement/utilisation_du_sol.jsp
http://statbel.fgov.be/nl/modules/publications/statistiques/environnement/utilisation_du_sol.jsp
Figure 3: Built-up area used for different functions in Belgium, 1985 and 2009
Fullscreen image Original link

The built-up and related areas are made up of land used for different functions. In 1985, the function which occupied the larger area was transport and communication followed by residential land, other uses, industrial land and commercial land. Between 1985 and 2009, the land occupied by each of these functions has increased. The most significant increase occurred for residential land, which reached 2,501 km2 in 2009 against 1,582 km2 in 1985, exceeding the land used for transport and communication in 2009. The annual growth rate of residential land was 1.9 % over this period (0.3 % for land used for transport and communications). Commercial and industrial land also registered significant annual growth rate over this period, with 1.7 % and 1.6 % respectively.

 

Residential area and number of households in Belgium

Key message

There has been a rapid increase in the residential area per inhabitant in comparison with the growth of the population and the number of households in Belgium

Figures

Figure 4: Population, number of households and residential area per inhabitant in Belgium, 1985-2008

(*) no data available in 1985, data used for 1980 are data of 1981.
Data source
http://statbel.fgov.be/fr/modules/publications/statistiques/environnement/utilisation_du_sol.jsp
http://statbel.fgov.be/nl/modules/publications/statistiques/environnement/utilisation_du_sol.jsp
Figure 4: Population, number of households and residential area per inhabitant in Belgium, 1985-2008
Fullscreen image Original link

The growth of residential land during the last 30 years (Fig.2) is due to the increase in the number of households. The number of households grew from 3.61 million in 1981 to 4.57 million in 2008, i.e. an average annual increase of 0.9 %, in comparison with the rise of the total population (0.3 % per year). Other factors played a role in the increase of residential land, such as the ideal of a detached house with a garden, the desire of some municipalities to attract new residents (for tax income) and often better real estate prices per square metre. Although young families generally still continue to flee the city, urban populations remain largely at the same level due the replacement by other social groups. That all has led to a tremendous increase in the residential area per inhabitant that grew at an annual rate of 1.4 % between 1980 and 2008. The main consequence of this evolution on land use is urban sprawl.

Extension of transport networks in Belgium

Key message

There has been a steady increase in road infrastructure since 1970 in Belgium

Figures

Figure 5: Evolution of transport infrastructure in Belgium, 1970-2007

Note: no available data for water transport infrastructure in 2007
Data source
http://statbel.fgov.be/fr/modules/publications/statistiques/environnement/utilisation_du_sol.jsp
http://statbel.fgov.be/nl/modules/publications/statistiques/environnement/utilisation_du_sol.jsp
Figure 5: Evolution of transport infrastructure in Belgium, 1970-2007
Fullscreen image Original link

The growth of residential, commercial and industrial land went hand in hand with the growth of road infrastructure. Figure 3 shows that the number of km of road infrastructure increased significantly between 1970 and 2007, from 94,218 km to 153,076 km. This is an annual growth rate of 1.3 %, while during the same period the rail infrastructure decreased at a rate of -0.6 % per year and the water transport infrastructure at a rate of -0.04 % between 1970 and 2000 (no data for 2007).

This extension of road transport infrastructure is also due to the location of Belgium in Europe. Belgium is located at the centre of western Europe and is an important centre of transit. The country’s economic activity, which is strongly export oriented, is based on a dense road and rail network (one of the densest in the EU)1. The road infrastructure density is very high in Belgium2, with 4.99 km per km² of territory in 2005. After Malta, Belgium is the EU country with the second highest density of the total road network3. The density of motorways is also particularly high with 5.8 km/100 km² of territory in 2007 (11.59 km/km² in the Brussels region, 5.15 km/km² in the Flemish Region and 4.74 km/km² in the Walloon Region)4. Per thousand km², Belgium has four times as many motorways as the EU average5.

The density of rail infrastructure is lower, with 0.12 km per km², but is very high in comparison with other European countries. Belgium has the second densest rail network in the EU (after the Czech Republic)6, about twice as dense as the EU average7.



2 Eurostat, Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport, and Directorate-general Statistics and Economic information.

4 Studiedienst van de Vlaamse Regering. http://www4.vlaanderen.be/dar/svr/Cijfers/Pages/Excel.aspx. Data from Federal Public Service mobility and transport and Directorate-general Statistics and Economic information