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The facts about soil sealing in Austria

Surface sealing or soil sealing refers to the covering of the natural soil by human structures (residential, settlement, road construction, etc.). Sealing also includes non-visible structures below the surface of the earth, such as e.g. B. lines, channels, foundations and heavily compacted soil. Areas are sealed because precipitation can no longer penetrate the ground from above and so many of the processes that normally take place there are stopped.

13 hectares (130,000 m² = 20 football pitches) of the valuable soil are built up and sealed every day. In ten years, this corresponds to an area the size of Vienna. The sustainability goal is a maximum of 2.5 ha of land use per day. The high soil consumption is one of the biggest environmental problems in Austria.


Excessive soil consumption is a major contributor to species and habitat loss. Around a third of our native animals and plants are considered endangered according to the " Red List of the Federal Environment Agency ".

According to the EU Environment Agency, 83 percent of the assessed species are in poor to poor condition, which puts Austria only second to last in an EU comparison. 

loss of humus formation

Almost all of the soil's biological functions are lost as a result of sealing. There is no more life and therefore neither a natural decomposition nor a new production of humus.

loss of water absorption capacity

Above all, heavy precipitation events lead to flooding and flooding of basements in built-up areas within a very short time because the water can no longer seep away. If you imagine that 1 ha of functioning soil could store 2,300 m3 of water, then you can imagine how much water suddenly finds its way superficially in built-up areas during heavy rainfall.

Loss of filter function

A well-functioning soil has the wonderful ability to filter water. Pollutants remain in the different soil layers and the water seeping into the groundwater is of high quality. But where there is no floor, there is no filter function. This means that the water that drains above ground or in the sewer system is not drinkable (at least without treatment).

Loss of agricultural land

Since the built-up areas are mostly areas that were previously used for agriculture, there are already clearly negative consequences for the security of the food supply in Austria. After all, an ever larger yield has to be generated on ever smaller areas, which, for example, leads to massive soil damage in the long term through the use of fertilizers.

Loss of climate buffer

Undeveloped soils with a corresponding plant cover are true climate buffers. They store CO2, provide shade, catch dust particles and prevent heat build-up, as we know it from cities. Sealed surfaces heat up extremely in the summer heat and actually lead to a change in the microclimate with an increase in local temperatures.

loss of biodiversity

The fragmentation of the landscape, primarily due to traffic routes, results in a separation of habitats. The migratory behavior of animals is massively impaired and individual populations become insular. Due to the lack of genetic mixing, species losses are inevitable. With the help of green bridges (green wild animal crossings/bridges over eg motorways - see Jagd-Lexikon Grünbücken) and amphibian fences, an attempt is made to maintain at least a certain degree of continuity.



Umweltbundesamt - Flächeninanspruchnahme Österreich.jpg

Land use in Austria

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WWF Soil Report 2021: The development of Austria - causes, problems and solutions to a growing environmental crisis 



Global Soil Week
This animated film tells the reality of land resources around the world.

ORF - soil consumption
Good night Austria with Peter Klien

The consequences of soil sealing know everything

​Soil sealing using Zurndorf as an example

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Austrian hail insurance
Folder - soil 2021

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