Artificialization of soils


Dernière mise à jour le :11/01/2021


Transformation of a soil of agricultural, natural or forestry character by management actions, which may result in its total or partial waterproofing. This change in land use, which is usually irreversible, has consequences which can be detrimental to the environment and agricultural production.

Artificialization results from urbanization and the expansion of infrastructure, under the influence of demographic dynamics and economic development. The artificialised surfaces include housing and associated green spaces, industrial and commercial areas, sports and leisure facilities, transport networks, car parks, mines, landfills and construction sites.

Artificialization amplifies water runoff to the detriment of infiltration, thereby increasing soil erosion, muddy water flows and the risk of flooding. Runoff also contributes to the degradation of the chemical and ecological quality of the waters by intensifying the transfer of sediment laden with contaminants from the soil to the streams (nitrogen or phosphate fertilizers, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, phytosanitary products). The artificialization of soils can also cause rapid and consequent carbon removal, which contributes to climate change when the soil is not very quickly covered (vegetation, coating). Finally, it affects biodiversity by fragmenting natural habitats and irretrievably transforming ecosystems and landscapes.