Science of the Total Environment vol:447 pages:323-336
Several regions around the globe are at risk to incur damage from landslides, but only few studies have concentrated on a quantitative estimate of the overall damage caused by landslides at a regional scale. This study therefore starts with a quantitative economic assessment of the direct and indirect damage caused by landslides in a 2,910 km² study area located west of Brussels, a low-relief region susceptible to landslides. Based on focus interviews as well as on semi-structured interviews with homeowners, civil servants and the owners and providers of lifelines such as electricity and sewage, a quantitative damage assessment is provided. For private properties (houses, forest and pasture land) we estimate the real estate and production value losses for different damage scenarios, while for public infrastructure the costs of measures to repair and prevent landslide induced damage are estimated. In addition, the increase in amenity value of forests and grasslands due to the occurrence of landslides is also calculated. The study illustrates that a minority of land (only 2.3%) within the study area is used for dwellings, roads and railway lines, but that these land use types are responsible for the vast majority of the economic damage due to the occurrence of landslides. The annual cost of direct damage due to landsliding amounts to 688,148€/year out of which 550,740€/year for direct damage to houses, while the annual indirect damage augments to 3,020,049€/year out of which 2,007,375€/year for indirect damage to real estate. Next, the study illustrates that the increase of the amenity value of forests and grasslands outweighs the production value loss. As such the study does not only provide quantitative input data for the estimation of future risks, but also important information for government officials as it clearly informs about the costs associated with certain land use types in landslide areas.