Land use in the Netherlands, 2012

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The Netherlands is a green country, with more than four fifths of its surface area used for recreation, agriculture, woodland and nature. However, spatial use varies greatly from province to province.

Mainly green land use in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a green country, with more than four fifths of its surface area used for recreation, agriculture, woodlands and nature. Less than 15% of the country is red space (infrastructure, houses, buildings and other built-up areas). The land use map shows distinct clusters of urban land use functions in the west of the Netherlands. There is considerably less urban development in the east, and even less in the north of the country. A striking detail is the string of urban areas from Bergen op Zoom to Nijmegen, along the transition area between the river region and the higher sandy areas in the south. The Veluwe also stands out with its concentration of recreation, woodland and nature. The agricultural sector is still the main land user in the Netherlands, with two thirds of the country's surface area being used for agriculture in 2012.

Spatial use varies greatly from province to province

Spatial use shows considerable variation between provinces. The western provinces are full, the provinces in the north empty and spacious, and the eastern and southern provinces are a mix of the two. In the provinces of the Randstad - Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland and Utrecht - there is a clear focus on housing, work and recreation. The provinces Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe are characterised by a high proportion of agriculture, although Zeeland and Overijssel are also made up for more than 70% of agricultural land. There are many natural areas in Friesland and Noord-Holland, and a relatively large proportion of these are on the Wadden Islands.

Roughly one seventh of the Netherlands is built on

Built-up areas take up one seventh of the surface area of the Netherlands. Housing takes up less than 7% and is mostly concentrated in the Randstad, as are buildings (1%) and other built-up areas (over 4%). This clearly highlights the inextricable link between housing and work. One exception is the Maasvlakte and the Moerdijk industrial area. Other large working areas are the port areas of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the blast furnaces at Beverwijk and DSM in Geleen. Infrastructure makes up 3% of the Netherlands. However, the scale means that infrastructure is difficult to see on the map and is therefore not shown on it.


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Reference of this webpage

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2024). Land use in the Netherlands, 2012 (indicator 0061, version 10,

) Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Hague; PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague; RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven; and Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen.