Planetary Boundary

Land Cover Anthropisation

Global Status in 2010

Limit per Capita:
16 669 007 km2
19 361 926 km2
2 812 m2
clearly safe    safe    unsafe    clearly unsafe

Score < 0.5x: China, Malta
Score < 1x: Austria, Cyprus, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Rest of the World, Slovenia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Score < 2x: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey,
Score < 4x: Russian Federation, United States of America
Score < 8x: Australia, Canada
Countries with a score of 1 are in equilibrium, i.e their footprint is the same size as their limit. Countries with a score larger than 1 are overshooting, i.e. their footprint is exceeding their allocated limit.
The yearly global limit for Land Cover Anthropisation is not overshot yet and evolving slowly. The situation is thus considered as safe.
While a majority of countries are overshooting their limit, only 18% of the global population is leaving in an overshooting country.
Name (evaluation year)
Land Cover Anthropisation (2010)
Indicator Scope
Is this a global issue?
Land cover is usually considered a regional issue rather than a global issue since changes occur at a local or regional scale. A global perspective can however be adopted when considering how land cover changes affect the global Earth system, in particular through their impacts on climate change (UNEP, 2012) as well as on global biodiversity.
What is the selected indicator?
The surface of anthropised land, i.e. agricultural and urbanised (sealed) land, as percentage of ice-free land (water bodies excluded).
How is the indicator computed?
Anthropization is the conversion of natural environments by human action. The maximum global anthropised surface, i.e. the global limit, is assumed to be the current anthropised surface plus a 1% increase in deforestation and plus the additional urban land required to keep the current ratio of urban land per capita over time.

A detailed description of the logic and the computation is available in our methodological report.
Data sources, and resulting limits and footprints, differ however from the report since we have here used global and more recent databases.
We have here mainly used the following databases: WIOD, FAO, Global Human Settlement Layer, World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision.

Look at the big picture !

Current results represent first estimates of the performances of countries with respect to Planetary Boundaries. Computations are based on international datasets included in world input-output models (WIOD and exiobase 2.0) which we complemented with additional sources and basic assumptions.

The overall perspective is assumed to be correct but errors could exist for specific countries. Results will be improved in the follow-up projects.