Land use

  • Cropland and grassland account for just over half of land use

    Agricultural land use predominates in Flanders: slightly more than half of the surface area of the Flemish Region in 2016 was in use as arable or grassland. This also includes ‘natural grassland’ that is not used for agriculture, even though it only forms a small proportion of the total area of grassland. Just over 10% of Flanders is wooded. 


    Land use refers to the actual use of the land for specific activities or crops, such as arable farming, grass cultivation, but also housing, industry, services and recreation, which may differ from the legal purpose of these lands. Land may be legally designated as a residential area, but actually be used as grassland or arable land. 


    Between 2013 and 2016, the largest shifts in the use of land can be found in the decline of grassland (-0.8 percentage points) and the relative increase of the ‘residential’ area (+0.3 percentage points). 

  • Use of land for housing varies per municipality from 3% to 42%

    13% of the surface area in the whole Flemish Region is occupied by houses and gardens. This percentage varies considerably from one municipality to another. The highest percentage was noted in Kraainem (42%), the lowest in Voeren (3%). 


    In 42 municipalities, more than one fifth of the surface area is used for housing. These are mainly municipalities in the periphery of Brussels and Antwerp. Of the 13 central cities, this is only the case in Leuven (23%) and Roeselare (22%). In the Westhoek and South Limburg, the use of land for housing is low and fluctuates between 5% and 10%. This is also the case in a number of municipalities bordering on the Netherlands. 


Department of Environment and Spatial Development: Land use and settlement area - situation 2016 


Central cities: as part of its urban policy, the Flemish government designated 13 'central cities'. These are Aalst, Antwerp, Bruges, Genk, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk, Leuven, Mechelen, Ostend, Roeselare, Sint-Niklaas and Turnhout. 

Publication date

15 March 2019

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