Land use


Flanders Department of Environment and Spatial Development


The concept ‘land use’ refers to the actual use of the land for specific human activities (such as housing, industry and services, recreation, etc.), crops (such as arable farming, grass cultivation) and natural vegetation (such as forests, shrubland, etc.). The actual land use of a location is not necessarily identical to the legal/planning purpose of this location. Land may be legally designated as a residential area, but actually be used as grassland or arable land. The land-use map does not contain information on the planning designation.

The actual use of land, as shown on the land-use map with 18 categories, is compiled on the basis of the 4 data levels of the ‘land-use database 2013’. More specifically, this compilation is the result of combining and aggregating a number of categories from the different data sources in this land-use database. These are either GIS data layers (for example, Large-Scale Reference Database Flanders, Agricultural land use parcels map, etc.) and other spatial data sources (e.g. Crossroads Bank for Enterprises). A combination of this basic data results in a file with 4 levels: Level 1: Land cover, Level 2 – (Urbanised) Land Use, Level 3 - Multifunctional Land Use and Level 4 - Legally Designated Land Use. 

The land-use database is drawn up using mainly vector operations, but in the last steps is converted into a raster file at 10mx10m resolution.

The land-use map is updated every 3 years using the most recent available reference GIS layers. The second update thus has reference layers from 2016/2017, but some reference layers are older or not fully updated. 

The methodology was also refined in the 2016 update. To achieve a consistent evaluation of the land-use changes that have occurred since the baseline measurement in 2013, the land-use database for 2013 was reconstructed according to the updated method that had been used to draw up the land-use database of 2016.

Remarks on quality

The quality of the land-use map depends on the quality of the source files. The land-use database has been developed at medium spatial resolution (10m x 10m) for Flanders and Brussels, based on the best-available GIS layers.
Not all the data sources were fully updated (i.e. for the entire territory) between 2013 and 2016. This applies, for example, to the Biological Assessment Map (BWK).

Moreover, the methodology used should also be taken into account when assessing the changes between 2013 and 2016. For example, a major exchange in land use between the “other built-up areas” and “residential” took place which can partly be explained by the fact that, to map housing, use was made of numbers of residents per address on a specific date. If a particular address is temporarily unoccupied on the following date, the plot will be marked as ‘other built-up area’.


Department of Environment and Spatial Development: 

Land use database 2013

Land use and settlement area – situation 2016


Ask your question

To the statistics