Environmental Engineering Reference
Administrative regions (270 NUTS2 regions);
Environmental Zones (12 classes);
Soil types (seven OCTOP classes).
A subdivision in suitability classes of land for agriculture as defined by the Agri-mask
was not included - mainly to restrict the number of regions to be modelled.
Therefore, unsuitable land is not excluded in the Seamzones. The spatial allocation
of farm types described in the next section ensures that restrictions on farmed area
and types of farming in areas with limitations for farming, such as the areas
indicated by the Agri-mask layer, are included. The links between the spatial levels
and modelling are described later in this chapter.
The top layer of the Seamzones used in SEAMLESS are the NUTS2 2 regions as
defined by Eurostat. This layer includes 270 regions in EU27 plus Liechtenstein,
Norway and Switzerland with an average size of 1.7 million hectares. The smallest
of these regions is 16,041 ha, while the largest extends to 16.5 million hectares.
Adding the layer of environmental zones to the NUTS region layer results in 591
regions corresponding to 2.2 environmental zones per NUTS regions. These
combined regions have an average size of 784,711 ha, ranging from 88 to almost
11 million hectares.
The subdivision of the EnZ by NUTS2 regions is meant to develop zones which
are homogeneous in terms of climatic conditions, so we may call it a climate zone.
The NUTS2-specific climatic data represent a major refinement compared to the
average climatic data per EnZ, and they can be combined conveniently with the
land use and farm statistical data which are available. Within a given NUTS2 region
more than one EnZ may be present. The climate zone is further subdivided in
Seamzones on the basis of differences in soils. A Seamzone is homogeneous in
terms of farming conditions as defined by climate, soil and administrative region.
Adding the soil type layer to reach the final Seamzones results in a total of 3,513
regions. These Seamzones have an average size of 132,013 ha, ranging from 1 ha
and up to almost 7.6 million hectares. The size distribution of the Seamzones is
explored further in Table 7.3 . As it can be seen half of the Seamzones are smaller than
29,400 ha, 10% are smaller than 970 ha and 90% is smaller than 334,634 ha. This large
variation in the size of the Seamzones reflects the large variation in homogeneity
of biophysical characteristics in different parts of the European Union.
The Seamzones do not form contiguous areas but consist of several separate
areas. This spatial distribution is mainly a consequence of the scattered pattern of
Table 7.3 Size distribution of the Seamzones (in hectares)
2 NUTS is the abbreviation for Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics. NUTS regions are
based on existing national administrative subdivisions. There are three NUTS levels defined.
The NUTS2 regions in the Netherlands are equal to provinces.