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No Net Land Take by 2050? What measures can avoid, reduce or compensate for land take?

Land and soil are limited natural resources essential to all human life. One of the major environmental challenges facing Europe is an increasing demand for development, which threatens these ecosystem services, such as water recycling and purification, carbon storage, and food and fuel — as well as biodiversity.​

‘Land’, can be defined as the terrestrial bioproductive system that comprises soil, vegetation, other biota, and the ecological and hydrological processes that operate within the system (according to UNCCD Art 1e). It is fundamental for food and raw materials, for protecting biodiversity, for storing carbon emissions, for filtering contaminants and for recycling water, as well as hosting human development and infrastructure.

Used efficiently, it can provide these key functions and ‘ecosystem services’ into the future. This Future Brief focuses on how land and soil could be used efficiently to continue to provide these functions and services for generations to come. It is widely reported that an area the size of Berlin, almost 1000 km2 of agricultural or natural land, disappears every year in the EU to be converted into artificial areas (European Commission, 2012).