Skip to main content

Built-up area change (areas of concern)

Some extraordinary changes have occurred across the globe over the past decades regarding human habitation. Globally, between 1975 and 2015 built-up areas increased by approximately 250 %, while population increased by a factor of 1.8. The most considerable changes occurred in Africa where it has nearly quadrupled. The extent of built-up area poses a number of challenges to global sustainable development. As urban clusters expand, productive land and soil is sealed, and natural ecosystems are replaced by land use to support urban centres. This layer highlights the areas of concern for built-up related issues derived from the convergence of global evidence of human-environment interactions that can have land degradation consequences.

RCoE Action:

Cherlet, M., Hutchinson, C., Reynolds, J., Hill, J., Sommer, S., von Maltitz, G. (Eds.), World Atlas of Desertification, Publication Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018.


Concerns can be validated or dismissed only by evaluating them within their local biophysical, social, economic and political contexts. Local context provides an understanding of causes and consequences of degradation, but also offers guidance for efforts to control or reverse it.

Select for mapping