Monday, January 13, 2020

Land Use in Switzerland

Only 8% of Switzerland is used for housing and infrastructure (such as roads). In the European Union the average territory used by housing and infrastructure is 11%. In neighboring France 12% of land is utilized by housing and infrastructure, while in Italy 13% of territory is used for this purpose.

You can learn more about how land is used in Switzerland on a fascinating new data visualization from 24 Heures. How Switzerland Uses its Territory is a scrollytelling mapped visualization exploring the amount of land taken up by housing, farming, forests etc. As you progress through 24 Heures' visualization the scale of each different type of land use is shown by overlaying the area of land used on a map of Switzerland. This culminates in a final map of Switzerland where the whole country is shaded to show how much of the country is given over to different types of land use.

How Switzerland Uses its Territory also explores the differences in land use between more rural and more urban cantons. At the end of the article small multiples show how land is divided in each of the 26 cantons.

How Switzerland Uses its Territory was obviously inspired by Bloomberg's Here's How America Uses its Land. In 2018 Bloomberg used a similar scrollytelling technique to map out how much land in America is given over to different types of land use.

It is interesting to compare how land is utilized in Switzerland and the USA. Forests make up the biggest percentage of land use in Switzerland (the Alps). In the USA the largest percentage of land is given over to livestock (cropland and pastures combined account for 41% of land in the contiguous states). Different categories are used in each map so it isn't easy to make direct comparisons between the tow countries. However it does appear that a far smaller portions of the USA is urbanized than in Switzerland (which makes sense when you think of the populations and size of each country).

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