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.
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