Who Takes the Land_ Quantifying the Use of Built-Up Land by French Economic Sectors to Assess Their Vulnerability to the ‘No Net Land Take’ Policy

Who Takes the Land? Quantifying the Use of Built-Up Land by French Economic Sectors to Assess Their Vulnerability to the ‘No Net Land Take’ Policy

Who Takes the Land? Quantifying the Use of Built-Up Land by French Economic Sectors to Assess Their Vulnerability to the ‘No Net Land Take’ Policy

Etienne de L’Estoile, Mathilde Salin

Abstract

In 2021, the French Parliament passed a law aiming for « No net land take » (NNLT) by 2050, while the rate of land take should be halved by 2031. These objectives are notably justified by the fact that land take, defined as the conversion of agricultural, forest and other semi-natural and natural land into built-up land, causes biodiversity loss and affects soil functions. Because they contribute to land take and use built-up land to produce, economic sectors will likely be affected by this new policy.

This paper investigates this exposure. Using cadastral data and geolocated information on French firms, we develop accounts tracing the annual use of built-up land (a stock) and the annual land take (a flow) by economic sectors over 2008-2021. Our results show a strong time-varying sectoral heterogeneity regarding land use and land take, with some sectors (e.g. wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing or accommodation and food services) being significant users of built-up land.

Regarding land take, we find that wholesale and retail trade has had the greatest responsibility. Then, we combine these new accounts with additional data and propose a multi-criteria analysis to assess the vulnerability of each sector in a ‘severe but plausible’ scenario of increasing land prices induced by the NNLT policy. Our results show that the sectors contributing most significantly to land take may not necessarily be the most vulnerable because of their relatively higher adaptive capacity.

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