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Driving forces of land consumption in Germany (FLINA)

In Germany, the daily conversion of land from non-urban to urban uses was 114 hectares in the period between 2001 and 2004. Compared with the former balance period (1997 until 2000), land use statistics observe a slight decrease in conversion rates. However, the level of land consumption for urban purposes remains critically high, taking into account the so called “30 hectares goal” of the National Sustainability Strategy of the Federal Government and the “Concepts and Strategies for Spatial Development in Germany” adopted by the Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning in 2006.

Although the general need to counteract sprawl is undisputed, political initiatives and reforms to significantly reduce greenfield land consumption more effectively have shown little effect in the recent past. This triggered a discussion on the responsible (explanatory) driving forces of land consumption and – based on this knowledge – on more effective and realistic policies against further sprawl. The relatively few studies on this field of research offer contradictory explanations regarding the root causes of land take and sprawl and the robustness of many studies suffers from a weak empirical base. On the one hand this is due to the diverse methodological approaches and the lack of available data on urban land use and its change. On the other, successful strategies and instruments against any sprawl-type urban developments cannot be implemented without a minimum understanding of its economic, social and cultural drivers.

The objective of this research project was to identify statistically relevant explanatory variables for land take for specific time periods and spatial units. Depending on the selected theoretical approach for the explanation of land take, explanatory variables were identified and tested.
The empirical concept of this research project was based on a multi-level spatial approach which differentiates between three spatial levels of analysis:

  • the analysis of land consumption variances at the level of (European) countries,
  • the analysis of land consumption variances at the level of counties where all German counties were included and
  • the analysis of land consumption variances at the level of municipalities for three se-lected case study regions.

Statistical estimation methods helped to model teh relation between driving forces and the existing urban and transport area stock in the years 1996 to 2004, plus the change in urban and transport area. Demand- and supplyside driving forces have been shown and the damping effects of political instruments have been discussed.

The project was carried out in cooperation with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Leipzig

Contact: Dr.-Ing. Richard Junesch

Link to Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR)
final report

Contracting authority

Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning