Land Use Change in the Bucharest Metropolitan Area and its Impacts on the Quality of the Environment in Residential Developments

Abstract: The Bucharest Metropolitan Area (BMA) is undergoing a major and alert phase of reorganisation as a response to changes in the political, institutional, administrative, economic and social environment. Over the last 20 years land use has profoundly changed in the area under study, mainly by means of agricultural land conversion and the subsequent formation of residential and commercial areas. These two kinds of land uses were also expanded over industrial spaces in the Bucharest Metropolitan Area. Residential areas are showing a large quantitative increase and extremely non-concentrated dispersion, as well as complex and diverse typology. The present study analyses the possible direct and indirect consequences of land use change regarding the quality of the environment in the residential areas of the Bucharest Metropolitan Area (focusing on new residential districts). The results show that agricultural and forested areas are decreasing in surface and suffer from fragmentation, while residential areas are expanding in a chaotic manner, thus indicating the possible areas of conflict regarding the quality of the environment. The lack of coordination in the numerous institutional or private projects in real estate is the main cause of this situation. Public authorities administered the real estate projects between 1947 and 1990 (Communist Era) as the majority of the land and the constructed property were state-owned by law. After 1990, in the era of private property, in absence of legislation and convenient decision-making, the consequences of the privatization were difficult to manage (spreading of residential districts, overused and insufficient infrastructure in many areas, poor accessibility and waste management problems).