Defining Alpine wide guidelines for minimised land-take and sealin

Basic information:

The core Alpine area is subject to specific challenges such as a very limited permanent settlement area, with highly productive soils, combined with an increasing demand for space for traffic, housing, economy and leisure. This is implicating land-take and often soil sealing leading to loss of those soils and considerable pressure on sensitive ecosystems etc. Those challenges affect not only one Alpine state – they are cross border issues and a common urgency. Alpine wide guidelines for minimised land-take and sealing shall be a corner stone to overcome these challenges.

No more additional (net) land-take, land-sealing and strengthened approaches of brown field re-development by 2050– these are three key elements for the protection of soils and their ecosystem services with respect to climate mitigation and adaptation. Soils can be destroyed easily, but it takes a very long time to regenerate soil, if it is possible at all. This applies especially to high altitude areas, where soil development processes are taking place even slower. The transition towards climate-neutral and climate-resilient Alps requires an Alpine wide understanding of the importance of minimised land-take and sealing and redevelopment of brownfields.

Sequence of implementation steps:

Reach common understanding in Alpine countries about the economical use of soil and the reduction of land use and therefore develop an Alpine wide definition and shared understanding of monitoring of land-take and land-sealing.

Compile, make use of and spread the data collection of soil quality and soil function (pathway IP_S1: Preservation and sequestration of carbon in soil with a focus on peatlands, moorlands and wetlands) and consider information on soil quality and function for spatial planning decisions.

Empower the discipline of spatial planning and involving the spatial planning sector in decisions regarding land-take and sealing in all Alpine countries. A key elements are to foster communication about the importance of spatial planning as tool for soil protection and that also data of soil quality and functions should be considered in spatial planning.

Alpine wide recommendations for an economic incentive system (e.g., tradeable land planning permits[1], subsidies for land unsealing) which include both net new land-take (e.g., for new infrastructures) but also land regeneration shall be made. These recommendations shall be made on the basis of a review of existing economic incentive systems for land-take in the Alpine countries and beyond.

[1] For further information please refer to:

Define guidelines for land use plans at the municipal level (land-take and urban regeneration), including strategic action in land planning as well as small-scale measures for soil sealing reduction.

Stakeholders at the municipal level play a key role when it comes to the implementation of guidelines for land use plans. Workshops and Information events shall be organized in the perimeter of the Alpine Convention.

Further Information:

  • Working Group on Soil Protection of the Alpine Convention
  • Stakeholders of the Alpine Soil Partnership/Links4Soils
  • Agents for Soil protection on the international, national, regional and local level (and their networks)
  • Decision makers at local and regional level (mayors)
  • Scientific community (e.g., TU Vienna, Boku Vienna)
  • Spatial planner (e.g., national networks like ÖROK in Austria)
  • Stakeholders from all sectors (building, traffic, economy, agriculture and forestry, nature conservation etc.)
  • All those active in the Spatial planning pathways
  • Definition of land-take/land-sealing, brownfield redevelopment
  • Common understanding for monitoring of land-take and land-sealing
  • Recommendations for an economic incentive system that stimulates efforts to minimize land-take and sealing
  • Guidelines for land use planning at municipal level
  • Workshops and information events for stakeholder at the municipal level
  • Alpine wide definition of land-take/land-sealing (y/n)
  • Recommendations for an economic incentive system (y/n)
  • Guidelines for land use plans at the municipality’s level (y/n)
  • Workshops and information events for stakeholder at the municipal level in every Alpine country (y/n)
  • In depth revision on the topic “Economical use of soil” of the Compliance Committee of the Alpine Convention
  • Links4Soils (Stock taking No 77) and Alpine Soil Partnership with the Alpine Soil Platform (website)
  • Activities of EUSALP AG6 (declaration on “Sustainable Land Use and Soil Protection”, toolbox “less land-take”, new work programme in 2020)
  • Climate Communication measures of ALPACA
  • Impuls4Action (“From intelligent Landuse to sustainable municipalities”, cross national project of Alpine states)
  • Working Group on Soil Protection of the Alpine Convention
  • No net land take by 2050 (European Commission)
  • Project OpenSpaceAlps (2019-2021)
  • Indicator Land take in Europe (
  • ESPON SUPER – applied research project:




Alpine soils are highly vulnerable to climate change and at the same time face pressures from land- use, land-take and soil sealing. Soil also has an important role for climate mitigation: It is an important carbon pool. The preservation of soil is crucial, because only healthy soils can store the carbon. All these facts provide a clear and comprehensive view: The preservation of Alpine soils is crucial. Only healthy soils can store carbon and the Alpine area includes many specifically carbon-rich soil types like peatland, moorland or wetland areas. Both quality and quantity of these soils need to be protected by reducing pressures on Alpine soils originating from increasing demand for space for traffic, housing, economy and leisure and at the same time from agricultural and forestry practices which are a threat to soil preservation.