Land use and land cover
Updated: 21 June 2021
Next update: 25 July 2022
About the statistics
The statistics describe land use and land cover in Norway. Areas that are built-up are classified according to use, while non-built-up areas are classified according to land cover.
Land use - Land use describes built-up areas by socio-economic purpose, and covers for example areas used for dwellings, business, recreation or roads.
Land cover - Land cover is the observed (bio)physical cover on the earth's surface.
Built - up area / site - All types of buildings, structures and permanently sealed surfaces and associated areas.
Non - built - up area - Areas/regions without a permanently built-up surface, including cultivated land.
Name: Land use and land cover
Topic: Nature and the environment
Division for Housing, Property, Spatial and Agricultural Statistics
Municipalities, counties, country
The maps are stored as spatial data sets and can be used for other analyzes as required.
The first area accounting system of Norway was published in 1981. Aerial photos were used for interpreting land use and land cover. The method was time consuming and was abandoned after the test period.
The establishment of the National register of Ground, Addresses and Buildings (GAB) gave new possibilities for land use statistics. Methods were developed and statistics produced by Engebretsen (1989, 1993).
Automatic digital methods for the delimitation of urban settlements were conducted (Dysterud et al. 1999) and methodical studies of land use statistics were carried out (Engelien 2000, Bloch 2002). In 2005 Land use in urban settlements, based on point datasets and buffer methods, were published. This attempt was not repeated.
By 2011 the available data and the method of delimiting areas had improved immensely, and the method described below was developed. The most important improvement was the use of property boundaries from the Cadastral register and the nation wide land resource map (AR-STAT) from the Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute. Statistics on Land use in urban settlements based on theese accurate data was first published in 2011, then yearly since 2013.
The statistics is mainly used by civil administration (ministries, directorates, county- and municipality administrations) as well as for research purposes.
No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 8 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given inthe Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equaly.
The statistics are based on the same maps used for the Land use statistics for Norway. Several other statistics are based on the same maps.
The statistics include all of Norway’s municipalities and Svalbard.
The land use and land cover delimitation includes multiple data sources, the most important are:
- land resource map, AR-STAT, from the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (former: the Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute).
- buildings and property boundaries from the Cadastre (at the National Mapping Authority).
- various data from the public map database (FKB).
- roads from the National roads database - Vbase.
Based on maps, registers and the use of GIS.
Data revised by owners of the registers, e.g. Statistics Norway and Norwegian Mapping Authorities.
Several digital maps are processed in a GIS-system and classified according to the Classification of land use and land cover. Automatic routines for delimiting and classifying areas has been developed.
The nation wide land resource map ( AR-STAT) from the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research forms the basis of the statistics "map". Built-up elements are placed higher in a hierarchy as shown below:
- Rivers and lakes
- Greenhouses classified as cultivated land
- Buffered buildings on parcels found in FKB land use
- FKB land use
- Built-up properties or shares of properties
- Buffered buildings
- Sports- and recreational areas
- Data from N50 land cover
- Parking areas
The finished map for statistics is projected from WGS84 UTM 33 to ETRS89-LAEA, before areas are calculated and statistics assembled.
The data sources used for Norway’s mainland are not available for Svalbard. A vegetation map from NINA is used as a base, built-up elements from a technical map and buildings from the cadastre are placed higher in the hierarchy. There are no property boundaries on Svalbard.
Not relevant at present.
The statistics are based on automatic processing of registers and map data bases. The data sources are built up according to national standards, however the interpretations of the standards might differ among municipalities. The completeness in the scope of mapped objects might also differ. This could affect the results, but all in all the results are considered to be comparable from place to place.
For all data sources there will be a time lag from changes in land use appear in reality until they are registered in maps and registries. As long as the time lag is constant it should not affect the result to much.
The numbers for Svalbard are based on different maps and the methods diverge from those used for Norway’s mainland. The lack of property boundaries at Svalbard leads to all buildings being buffered, they are therefore assigned less space than similar buildings on the mainland. For natural resources, the statistics are based on vegetation maps with classes that are not directly comparable with the classes in the Standard classification of land for statistical purposes.
The quality of the statistics is highly dependent on the quality of the contents of the Cadastre and various digital maps.
The land cover class ´´Open firm ground´´ in AR-STAT can refer to both built-up and natural areas. The combination with other data sets, like the building register, should assure that the areas are confirmed as built-up. However, in cases where areas are used for storage or industry, but there are no buildings, the areas might appear as undeveloped.