Baltic Sea Region Territorial Monitoring System

New soil sealing per capita H

Indicator definition

This indicator is defined as the share of soil sealing on LAU-2 territory. Earlier calculations defined this indicator as the amount of new soil sealing per inhabitant.

Indicator importance

Soil sealing is a measure of how much land is sealed into artificial “built” surface in a wider definition, i.e. including settlement areas, industrial estates, areas for transport infrastructure and other artificial built-up environments. Hence this indicator is associated with land take for economic development and is associated with settlement structures and demographic development. As soil sealing is also associated to the resilience and buffering capacity of nature (rainfall cannot infiltrate subsurfaces on sealed areas), this is an important indicator, as well it reflects the quality of landscapes for recreation and human well-being.

Findings

The actual soil sealing in 2009 contrasts the high densified large and medium-sized agglomerations in the Southern (Poland, Germany) and Eastern (Baltic States) range of the BSR with the rather rural areas of Scandinavia, which show extremely low soil sealing percentages, though one has to admit that the latter areas statistically benefit from their extremely large LAU-2 delimitations, opposed to the rather small LAU-2 units in Germany and Poland.

Thus, it is more interesting to look at changes in soil sealing between 2006 and 2009. The development tends to be more intense in fast developing but sparsely populated regions in Norway and Sweden, and to some extend in Finland, too. Still, no regular pattern can be found. Higher relative change rates can be observed in regions in Finland, Sweden, Baltic States, East Germany, and Hungary, but also in western France and Portugal. BSR as a whole is an area of relatively high new soil sealing when measured in percent of 2006. The reason for these rather high rates is a combination of low population density with extremely long distances between settlements, which lead to unfavorable soil sealing rates, for instance, when transport infrastructure projects are concerned (for example, roads with sealed surfaces stretch across hundreds of kilometers to connect two small villages). Southern Sweden, Denmark, most of German BSR territory and whole Poland differ from the common level by lower values of the indicator.