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Data source: Federal Statistical Office

Geographical Area: Germany

This table includes additional information to the above visualized indicators, i.e. a short definition of this indicator and a description of the politically determined target values as well as explaining the political intention behind selecting this indicator.


The indicator represents the annual change in the per capita open space area in square metres as a four-year moving average.

Target and intention

Open space areas should be preserved for agricultural and forestry use, as cultural and natural landscapes as well as recreation areas. For this reason, the decline in the per capita open space area should be reduced. A reduction in the loss of open space area indicates the success of measures to strengthen inner development and thereby conserve agricultural, wooded and water areas for agriculture and forestry, nature conservation and recreational use by the population.

Data status

The data published in the indicator report 2022 is as of 31 October 2022. The data shown on this platform is updated regularly, so that more current data may be available online than published in the indicator report 2022.

Text from the Indicator Report 2022 

Open space area includes areas of vegetation, such as arable land, pasture and woodland, as well as mining land and bodies of water. A distinction is made between open space proper and open areas within settlement zones, such as cemeteries, gardens, parks and recreational amenities, which, although largely undeveloped, are generally considered part of settlement and transport area. As a result, if previously undeveloped parts of settlement land are built on, this is neither reflected in this indicator 11.1.b “Loss of open space area” nor in the indicator 11.1.a “Expansion of settlement and transport area”.

In the period under review, the national average for per capita loss of open space area went down. Whereas the four-year moving average for 2001-2004 was still around 5  per capita, the current four-year moving average for 2017-2020 reveals a figure of just 3 .

Although subject to a similar trend, significant differences can be observed between rural and non-rural areas in terms of the degree of change. The loss of per capita open space area per inhabitant in rural areas contracted from 7.4 to 4.5  per year. In non-rural areas, it fell from 1.8  to 0.7 . In this context, it important to remember that non-rural districts and district-free cities have much less open space, such as forest or farmland, than rural areas do. Demographic trends also differ, and the indicator reflects those disparities, with rural areas mostly seeing their populations shrink during the period under review, while population numbers in non-rural areas rose slightly overall.

The data sources for the indicator are the population figures and the area survey by type of actual use compiled by the Federal Statistical Office. Since population data at regional level are used for the associated calculations, the 2011 census caused a jump in the time series. Moreover, some areas of land have been reclassified in the official land register maintained by the Länder in recent years, without any actual change to the landscape. To smooth out these effects and depict the long-term trend, a four-year moving average is shown, averaging out the figures for each year with those for the three preceding years. Additionally, the switch from the old to the new land use classification system was completed in 2016, which affected the official land-use statistics such that the data for 2016 are not directly comparable to those for previous years. This is why the development of the indicator for 2016 is only shown as a broken outline in the graph.

The distinction between rural and non-rural is based on a classification used by the Thünen Institute. The institute ascribes a degree of rurality to districts and district-free cities on the basis of geographical characteristics such as settlement density and share of farmland and woodland. The classification is thus applied to whole districts rather than to smaller entities like towns or villages.

The synoptic table provides information about the evaluation of the indicator in previous years. It shows if the weather symbol assigned to an indicator was rather stable or volatile in the past years. (Evaluation of the Indicator Report 2022 )


11.1.b Loss of open space area


Reduce the loss of per capita open space area






Evaluation <p>Leicht bewölkt</p>
<p>Leicht bewölkt</p>
<p>Leicht bewölkt</p>