This Issue Brief: 1) proposes an approach to encroaching land use change inducing loss of agricultural or natural lands ("artificialisation") and its links with biodiversity seen as the outcome of a dynamic process of gains and losses, and of changes between different types of spaces; 2) illustrates this approach in the Ile-de-France region; 3) highlights the main reasons why the Ile-de-France region suffers from this artificialisation, identifying the types of land use that are progressing the most; and 4) questions the policies implemented by public and private actors that produce this outcome.
Land-use change inducing the loss of agricultural or natural lands is the dynamic outcome of gains and losses resulting from a diversity of land uses.
These diverse land uses hold varying interest from a biodiversity viewpoint, including in urban areas. Their potential role with respect to biodiversity depends strongly on the way different spaces are managed.
A policy aimed at protecting biodiversity must therefore study how these spaces are planned, structured and managed—as much, or even more, than merely trying to contain urbanization.
An analysis of the Ile-de-France region shows significant conversion of agricultural lands, but also other dynamics that affect biodiversity, such as weak stability of the natural environment cover and intensified land-use change in urban areas due to increased densification. This process of conversion to built or “artificial” lands is primarily a result of the progression of industrial areas (especially for logistical purposes) and their adjacent surroundings (notably lawns and green surfaces), followed by the construction of suburban houses (housing developements).
- Currently, the management of this problem is based on a combination of soft norms, which are not or are sparingly applied by the the authorities to strictly regulate this kind of land-use change, and some hard norms, which are used in a relatively flexible manner.