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Changes in land cover in Europe reflect modifications in the uses of land, which often compete for the same resource: development of artificial surfaces for housing, transport and economic activities; intensification or extensification of agriculture practices; conversion of natural land to agriculture or farmland abandonment; afforestation or deforestation. Accounting for land cover change in a consistent way at the European scale has been made possible because of the Corine land cover inventory by satellite images carried out in 1990 and 2000 (and planned to be repeated for 2006).
Based on spatial information, the land accounts produced by the EEA provide assessments of the magnitude of the various types of change and, at the same time, of their distribution over the European territory. Built up using the methodology of the integrated system of economic environmental accounting (SEEA2003) of the United Nations, land cover accounts are connected to other sets of tables which describe the use of the natural resources by the economy. Land cover accounts can serve as well as a platform to account for ecosystem integrity and goods and services provided to societies by these ecosystems. Land cover accounts 1990-2000 have been produced for 24 European countries. The report analyses the main results for these countries and presents the methodology used for that purpose. The complete database is available at the EEA via its website, and its access is supported by powerful as well as user friendly extraction tools which make it possible to produce accounts for various types of geographical breakdowns.