Background and issues

Land take is the conversion of natural and agricultural land for uses such as housing, economic activities or transportation. In France, land take is progressing rapidly: about 1% of the country’s surface every 10 years. Land take generates numerous environmental impacts : it reduces and fragments natural habitats -  which is a major pressure on biodiversity – incrase in air and water pollution levels, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.



This project aims at better understanding the socio-economic determinants, or drivers, of land take. It seeks to identify land uses responsible for land consumption, and to analyze the actor’s rationale for the progression and localization of these uses. In order to reduce the rate of land take, it is crucial to identify the main determinants on which action should be take. It is also necessary to study how public policies can help reduce land take, or, on the contrary, contribute to the problem. We also want to evalulate whether public policies are relevant given the drivers and dynamics identified – and draw lessons from international comparison

The project consists in three parts :

  1. The review of existing scientific literature about the drivers, or explaining factors, of land take and urban sprawl.
  2. The analysis of current land take dynamics in several French regions, their implications for biodiversity, and the types of land use responsible for land consumption.
  3. Case studies and stakeholder interviews on two major topics: the economic rationale and the decision processes of private actors in urban development, and the implementation of selected public policies – which potential and real effects they have on land take.

Case studies are located in France and Germany. They allow comparison of successes and failures of land take management in those two countries.