Examples of ETC-LUSI thematic priorities.

Indicators currently working on

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has developed a Core Set of Indicators (CSI) with the aim of:

The ETC/TE has developed 2 of the 35 indicators of the CSI.

The first one is the CSI14 - Land take indicator, which answers the question “how much and in what proportion is agricultural, forest and other semi-natural and natural land being taken for urban and other artificial land development?”.
The specifications on how this indicator is calculated and the related assessment of the results obtained can be found here.

The second one is the CSI15 - Progress in management of contaminated sites indicator, which answers the question “How is the problem of contaminated sites being addressed (clean-up of historical contamination and prevention of new contamination)?”. The specifications on how this indicator is calculated and the related assessment of the results obtained can be found here.

Published indicators

The following ETC/TE indicators have been published by the EEA either in some reports and in the EEA indicators web page. You'll find the link to both.

The versions you can find in the above mentioned web page are the last ones that the EEA has endorsed. However, all these indicators are revised and updated using new data by the ETC/TE.

Unpublished indicators

The following ETC/TE indicators have not been published yet by the EEA. They are under revision.

Land cover affected by flooding
Land cover affected by flooding in the last five years. This indicator identifies which land cover types have been affected by flooding within the European watersheds during the last five years, and compares the results to the total land cover proportion by watershed.
Land use and land cover change within and in the surroundings of designated areas
This indicator acts as a synoptic measure for more specific environmental and natural resource changes significant to designated areas specifically, and to sustainable development, generally. It identifies the major pressures around nature-designated areas through the changes in land cover within and around them. It can be used complementary to other indicators related to population, nature conservation and sustainable development. Also, it is a useful tool for land planning and nature management as it allows an assessment of the possible positive and negative impacts of certain land cover typologies on the nature-designated areas as well as their buffer zones.

This indicator is calculated within and in the surroundings of Designated Areas. The surrounding is represented by two buffers of 1 km and 5 km around the designated area boundary.The indicator records the percentage and absolute area of change in each of the specified land use/land cover categories, together with the direction of the change (from which category to which category the change has occurred).The changes are defined based on the Corine Land Cover nomenclature.

Land use change
Land use (topological) change is defined as the exits from agricultural land use, broken down by non-agricultural sectors. This land use change represents the conversion of land to non-agricultural use. The driving forces for this land use change are the socio-economic demands of the non-agricultural sectors on the agricultural sector.
Land cover change
Land cover change is defined as the entries and exits to and from agricultural land use and semi-natural/natural areas. Land cover change represents the conversion of land within agriculture and from agricultural to semi-natural/natural areas, or vice versa. The pressures for land cover change are from the agricultural sector in response to socio-economic factors and / or legislative incentives or requirements.
Impact on landscape diversity
This indicator aims to describe the impact of agricultural land use on landscape diversity by tracking the evolution of indices of agricultural land use diversity as well as of selected landscape elements.
Pressures on coastal ecosystems
In the scientific literature, pressures on coastal ecosystems are identified as main disturbances that may affect, directly or indirectly, habitats and ecosystem health in the coastal area. Anthropogenic disturbances along shorelines are defined as any direct alteration by human activity, which may constitute a threat to the conservation of biological diversity and ecosystem health. The extent of anthropogenic disturbances in coastal areas is assessed according to the following parameters, taking into account that coastal is both land and sea and therefore, distrubances should be envisioned for both areas:
  1. The development along shore, in term of surface occupied by uses such as built up, infrastructures incl. harbours and marinas, industrial sites and intensive agriculture.
  2. The rate of development along the shore of these different land uses.
  3. Navigation facilities by km/shoreline & accidents main spots.
  4. Rate of sea traffic intensity.
Change in coastal erosion patterns
In order to define the main trends of coastal processes in Europe a set of databases will be crossed, such as Corine Coastal erosion, Dominant Landscape Type and Natura 2000. All this information will be analyzed using the coastal units. An update will be done when Eurosion database will be available. Main characteristic defined will be:
  • % of Number of km of Eroding coast (problem, confirmed)
  • % of Number of km of Stable coast
  • % of Number of km of Accreting coast (problem, confirmed)
  • % of the trends described bellow for each Corine class (90 and 2000 when available) and DLT-Dominant Landscape Types
  • % of the trends described in the protected zones by Natura 2000
Risk of contamination of water bodies from contaminated sites
Risks of contamination of surface and groundwater from mining dump sites, industrial sites, waste landfill or other sites.
Urban sprawl
Various factors - such as increase of the urban population, decentralisation of urban land uses, rising living standards, migration from rural to urban areas have contributed to the growth of the urban development around the periphery of urban agglomerations. The indicator analyses the amount of land sealed by urban sprawl, calculated by land cover class around major cities. It will distinguish between biogeographic regions, mountainous / flat areas, coastal / inland areas, etc. The aim is to show the expansion trends of urban growth as well as the intensity pattern of the urban development. When compared with the population, it indicates the efficiency of land use per inhabitant.
Redevelopment of brownfields for new urban uses
Brownfields (or derelict land) result from changing patterns of industry and development in many regions. The loss of the industry, the resulting unemployment and the reluctance of new investors to take on the technical problems and liabilities associated with brownfield sites, affect the economic prosperity of the region, particularly in urban locations. Municipalities are often unable to revitalise brownfield from within their own resources, and their city centres and environs remain degraded and under-utilised.

In this indicator, brownfield is used in the sense of any site that

  • have been affected by the former uses of the site and surrounding land
  • is derelict or underused
  • may have real or perceived contamination problems
  • is mainly in developed urban areas
  • require actions to bring them back to beneficial use.
It is based on the redevelopment of derelict & contaminated land (brownfields) for new urban uses (incl. public green spaces). It quantifies the number of sites per 1000 capita.
Citizens access to nearby green urban areas
The amount, location and quality of green space in urban centres influences the quality of the urban environment for residents. The indicator is a composite of three values:The main value is the percentage of population living within 300m of a green urban area, which is then weighted with:
  • Green urban area surface per inhabitant
  • Green urban area versus total urban area.
The citizens access is actually measured using the value of the proximity to the green urban area. It is assumed that a distance of 300m is equivalent to a five minutes walk. As a first approach, the indicator will be calculated for cities with more than 500.000 inhabitants.
Accumulation of heavy metals in agricultural topsoils
Naturally geogenic heavy metals are distributed evenly over the soil profile. The evolution of the soil may cause leaching of heavy metals downwards in the soil (excluding certain climatic environments that can lead to upward movement). Relatively higher concentrations of heavy metals in the topsoil towards subsoil thus indicate anthropogenic contamination. If heavy metal concentration is close to the detection limit then the enrichment factor is not applicable.

The cost of diffuse soil contamination is not seen much in soil itself, but in the consequences of the breakdown of the buffering capacity of soil. Although the precise cost has not been counted so far, the clean up of organic compounds, pesticides, plant nutrients and heavy metals from water is known to be very costly. (Towards a Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection, Communication from the Commission COM (2002) 179.)

The indicator on accumulation of heavy metals in agricultural topsoils is based on the calculation of the enrichment factor: heavy metals concentration in topsoil divided by concentration in subsoil.

Application of sewage sludge on agricultural land
This indicator quantifies the percentage of the area of agricultural land treated with sewage sludge in relation to the total area under agricultural use at regional level.

Data on the agricultural area treated with sewage sludge and the amount of applied sewage sludge and its average content in heavy metals provides an indication of the extent of the arable land potentially contaminated with heavy metals due to sewage sludge application. The area will usually be a small percentage of the total agricultural land, but with potentially high loads of heavy metals, depending on the sewage sludge quality.

Soil erosive status
Erosion is a natural process exacerbated by human activities. Agriculture is one of the main drivers since almost half of the European territory is used for this activity. The complexity of the process (rill erosion, gully erosion, tilling erosion, landslides,...) makes it difficult to measure actual values, especially at large scale. Modelling has been the most common approach to assess the extension and degree of the problem. However, these assessments fail to identify areas with highly eroded soilscapes where almost no soil is left to erode. In this cases actual values are expected to be very low and erosion risk is not a relevant parameter since the system is already in advanced stage degradation. Special attention should be paid to those areas to prioritize actions against erosion and to avoid the latest stage of the process: desertification.

This indicator quantifies the percentage of land area with highly eroded soils (soil depth < 30-50 cm). This area is derived from the coverage of Regosols (Rge, RGc, Rgy, RGd) and Leptosols (Lpe, LPd, LPq), following FAO Soil Keys (1998). These groups represent those soils where a profile with greater pedogenic development and depth has been replaced by another very shallow and scarcely evolved one.

Soil sealing
The demand for building land and better infrastructures is rising during the past 20 years all over Europe. In addition, Increasing prosperity increased the demand for second homes. The new built-up areas have been at expenses of agricultural land in most cases, and forests to a lesser extent; and also in the Mediterranean and Baltic coastal zones, due to the increasing pressure of tourism.

Built-up area is taking into account cities, industrial areas, roads, airports and ports and all the sealed areas in general that have been used to adequate land and territory to human needs. It is a neutral approximation because this indicator only gives information about where the land is sealed, which amount of land is sealed compared with the total area of the country, the increase of sealed areas among different years, etc. Therefore, it measures the type of soils lost by sealing and the high quality soils for agriculture lost by sealing (in ha and % of sealed area).