Sustainable land use is seen as one of the key factors for a "Great Transformation" towards sustainability. Currently, about 55 hectares of land are "consumed" every day in Germany for new buildings and infrastructure. The German government wants to reduce this figure to less than 30 hectares per day by 2030. In 2050, there should even be zero at the end. To achieve this, a fundamental understanding of land use in Germany is needed. Although the course of new land use over time shows a reduction, there is no discernible trend towards a circular land economy.
In addition to land use, soil sealing and unsealing must also be considered. Soils are central to the survival of humankind and the preservation of biodiversity. They contribute to the percolation of rainwater and support its evaporation, which is important for both cooling the (urban) climate and increasing humidity. The increasing sealing of surfaces in the course of urbanisation and industrialisation leads to a detrimental change in the nature of soils. Unsealing can counteract these negative effects. It is therefore necessary to take unsealing measures aimed at restoring soil functions and adapting to climate change.
To this end, the IOER has quantified open space development, construction land reserves and the inner development potential of cities. Not least within the framework of the IOER Research Data Centre (IOER-FDZ), it is working on recognising development patterns and cause-effect relationships, automatically collecting information on previous settlement and open space development and identifying undesirable development paths by means of analyses, modelling and simulations.