Environmental Processes

, Volume 5, Supplement 1, pp 213–237 | Cite as

Land Accounts in the River Basin Districts of Greece

  • Georgios Bariamis
  • Georgios Paschos
  • Evangelos Baltas
Original Article


Land is a highly valuable natural resource, where all human activities take place by exploiting natural goods for socio-economic development. The competition for land resources is increasing with pristine soils of unoccupied land being very precious for agricultural use (food production) and infrastructure development. International efforts have been made in assessing and quantifying the natural capital reserves and ecosystem services through lately led conceptual approaches such as the land and ecosystems extend accounting. This research conducted at the national level of Greece and in the 14 river basin districts (RBDs), revealed the main drivers of change in land cover stocks, as well as future trends in a non-spatially explicit context. In Greece, the analysis for the last 23 years has shown that the land resources are intensively exploited with significant piece of land being transformed into urban fabric and other man-transformed surfaces supporting a more urbanized manner of socio-economic development. The expansion of artificial surfaces is a phenomenon met in all RBDs of the country. The significant reduction of forests increases the flood risks, especially in peri-urban areas, while the reduction of forests in low-lying lands used for intense agriculture reduces aquifer recharge and impairs water quality due to the use of fertilizers and pesticides. An attempt has been made to estimate the main trends with a 50-year projection horizon; the current trends are anticipated to continue (+17% expansion of urban fabric) with significant land surface being converted from natural to other uses.


Land accounts Urbanization Agricultural development Forest loss Natural capital 



An initial shorter version of the paper has been presented at the 10th World Congress of the European Water Resources Association (EWRA2017) “Panta Rhei”, Athens, Greece, 5-9 July, 2017 (


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, School of Civil EngineeringNational Technical University of AthensAthensGreece

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