A recent study shows that 5% of the Alicante province is built upon leaving only 23% of the land with wooded mountains. That makes it third in the list of most built up areas in Spain behind Madrid and Barcelona
Construction in recent decades is to blame with roads, railways, airports, industrial estates and large shopping centres all adding to the number of homes that have been built. And some parts of the province are worse than others. For example, the Bay of Alicante is now 90% built up and Elche is 5 times the size it was 30 years ago..
Loss of land for farming is only one aspect of this phenomena. Covering so much land also promotes the greenhouse effect, increases pollution, reduces water storage, leads to a loss of biodiversity and can even aggravate the effects of flooding and earthquakes. The province is increasingly suffering from drought and desertification and the forested areas are getting fewer – wooded hills now only account for 22.8% of the province. We need those trees and plants that take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen for air quality; that is one of the reasons why many schools plant trees and gardens around playgrounds.
Of course, economics is the driving force behind all of this. It is more profitable to use land for building than for farming but there has to be a balance. As the population increases with the number of houses being built, so the need for food grows with it. Eventually, without sufficient land for farming, we would be unable to sustain ourselves.