IGU Urban Commission, Tel Aviv, 2010

Bożena Degórska

Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland

Transformation of rural areas into urban areas within the Warsaw metropolitan area in the early 21st century


The conducted studies concern the land-use transformation within the Warsaw Metropolitan Area during the EU pre-accession period of Poland and the first years of membership. This analysis embraced only rural communes. Major aims were to determine land use changes: to identify main areas of transformations and regularities of these changes with a particular focus put on the influence of road distance from the core of Warsaw as well as on the quality of soils expressed by quality index of agricultural productive area and finally to distinguish the commune types in terms of similarities regarding landscape transformation.

Political-economic transformation which began in Poland in 1989 triggered the intensification of the urban sprawl. Spontaneous building development began spreading into the more distant areas from Warsaw. During 2001-2008 the most dynamic increase in the residential areas was observed in zone lying 31-40km from the core of Warsaw with the biggest pace of growth of production and services areas with the parallel substantial decrease in arable land determined in the zone exceeding 40km thereof. The studies determined that the intensified process of industry and services decentralization began during 2003-2004. Since then this process has been taking place in areas more distant from Warsaw. Moreover relations between agricultural and residential areas underwent extreme changes.

Referring to geographical directions of land use changes the transformation of rural areas into urban areas is of much more intensified character in the southern and western part of WMA, which is connected with the biggest competitiveness of those communes. High-quality of soils and substantial noise connected with the proximity of the airport are found not to hamper the urbanization process. The Vistula River and the Kampinos National Park constitute threats to eastern and northern-western directions of urbanization process respectively.

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