Economic players and the environment2017 edition
In this previously unpublished edition of the “Insee References” collection entitled Economic Players and the Environment, Insee and the Data and Statistics Department of the ministry with responsibility for the environment present analyses and indicators aiming to provide an overview of interactions between the environment and the economy in France.
Land lost to development in metropolitan France between 2005 and 2013
The loss of land to development in France is fairly well documented on the national scale. However, few analytical studies of its characteristics exist, especially on the local level. Where has the recent construction taken place? Near already developed land or in the middle of farmland or forests? What kind of human activity is the cause? Mining a database of GPS-located building permits and crosschecking it with geographical sources used to analyse land use have made the answers to these questions possible for the first time. A new nomenclature specifies whether the construction is in the midst of existing buildings, in a new allotment (mass development) or on a site isolated from other construction (suburban sprawl). The environmental impact of new construction varies depending on how the land is used. It is therefore useful to distinguish between these forms of development within national trends. Between 2005 and 2013, an average of 15,000 hectares a year were developed: 45.41% by continuous construction of the built environment, 41.45% by suburban sprawl and 13.14% by mass development. In the northeast quadrant of France, continuous construction accounts for a large share of open space lost to development, while suburban sprawl dominates in the west and southwest. Mass development remains marginal, except along the coast. Housing accounts for most of the area lost to development. Collective housing consumes less space than single-family dwellings in relation to the number of units (437 m² compared to 1,142 m²). Lastly, development is growing at a quicker pace outside urban areas or small cities than in more densely populated areas (over 0.5% compared to less than 0.3% on average per year).