New research reveals the extent of the UK’s land footprint.

A new report released today (Monday 10 October 2011) shows that the UK has the second-largest ‘land footprint’ in Europe, and that UK consumption of imported agricultural and forestry products uses up land in other countries equal in size to more than three times the UK.

The ‘Europe’s Global Land Demand’ report, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe, shows the scale of flows of ‘virtual land’ around the world – this is all the land that has been used to produce traded products, and shows that more than half of the land consumed in Europe is outside European boundaries.

Stan Blackley, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“We over-consume, not just in Scotland but throughout the UK and across Europe. This over-consumption makes us dependent on products produced on land in other parts of the world. This dependency on imported land is contributing to climate change and biodiversity loss, and it is a major driver in land grabbing and land rights violations in the developing world.

“For economic, social and environmental reasons, we need to reduce our land footprint, by, for example, supporting local and domestic businesses and supply chains, and reducing our resource use, not just in the UK, but across Europe as a whole. We need to reduce our reliance on land outside our boundaries, and live more within our own means.”

Six of the top 10 land importing countries/regions are European – Germany, UK, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Spain. Germany and the UK each import approximately 80m hectares of land a year. The EU average land consumption is 1.3 hectares per capita, while countries such as China and India use less than 0.4 hectares per capita.

In September the European Commission acknowledged the need to address Europe’s land consumption but has not yet been specific about how this should be achieved. It is proposing a two year discussion on resource use measurement and targets. Friends of the Earth Scotland believes that it is clear Europe’s land footprint must reduce, and that targets should be set to achieve this.


For media enquiries, please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland t: 0131 243 2719

Notes to Editors

1. Europe’s Global Land Demand, full report:

2. A media briefing can be found here:

3. European Commission, “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe”, 20 September 2011: www.ec.europa.eu/environment/resource_efficiency/pdf/com2011_571.pdf

4. Friends of the Earth Scotland is * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent.