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Global Map of Irrigation Areas


According to the data reported by EUROSTAT irrigated area in Portugal was decreasing during the last 15 years. While area equipped for irrigation was 877 690 ha in 1990, it decreased to 796 540 ha in 1995 and 791 990 ha in 2000. For the year 2003 the reported irrigable area was even much lower at 674 800 ha. The same trend was reported for the year actually irrigated, which was 631 120 ha in 1990 but only 248 040 ha in 2003 [PT01]. The agricultural census undertaken in 1999 reported an area equipped for irrigation of 792 008 ha and an area actually used for irrigation of 606 213 ha [PT02]. These census data were also used in this study because the area equipped for irrigation was reported down to 306 NUTS III units. Area equipped per NUTS II region and is shown in the table below while the corresponding areas by NUTS III division are available in this table


In order to distribute irrigated areas within the municipalities, irrigation areas were extracted from a digital land use map at the scale 1 : 250 000 [PT03] and from the Corine 2000 land cover database for Europe [PT04]. The large-scale irrigation areas shown on an irrigation map of the country [PT05] were represented very well that way. 421 805 ha irrigated areas were assigned in total to polygons extracted from the two digital data sets. The remaining irrigated area was assigned to polygons also extracted from the Corine 2000 land cover database for Europe [PT04] but classified as rainfed agriculture. The priority levels used thereby are as follows:

Attribute Priority
Non-irrigated arable land (211) 5
Fruit trees and berry plantations (222) 5
Annual crops associated with permanent crops (241) 5
Complex cultivation patterns (242) 5
Vineyards (221) 4
Olive groves (223) 4
Pastures (231) 4
Land principally occupied by agriculture with
significant areas of natural vegetation (243)

Since the Corine 2000 database did not cover the island of Madeira, cultivated land was digitized from satellite imagery [PT06] and irrigated areas was assigned to the digitized polygons.


[PT01]: Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT). 2006. Irrigation by regions. Online data base (available at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu), 07/07/2006.
[PT02]: Instituto Nacional de Estatistica. 2003. Recenseamento Geral da Agricultura 1999. Principais Resultados por Região Agrária. Data are available online at: http://www.ine.pt/prodserv/Rga/publicacaopdf_ra.htm, 25/08/2005.
[PT03]: Instituto Geográfico Português. 2001. Carta de Ocupação de solo de 1990. Digital data set available at: http://www.igeo.pt/IGEO/portugues/Frameset-egeo.htm, 08/08/2005.
[PT04]: EEA. 2005. Corine land cover 2000 – vector by country (CLC2000), version 1. (available at: http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/dataservice/metadetails.asp?id=667).
[PT05]: Freund, B. 1993. Entwicklung und Perspektiven der Bewässerungswirtschaft in Portugal. In H. Popp & K. Rother, eds. Die Bewässerungsgebiete im Mittelmeerraum, Passau, Germany, Passavia Universitätsverlag, 9-16.
[PT06]: Earth Satellite Corporation. 2004. Landsat GeoCover (2000/ETM+) Edition Mosaics, tile 071-170. Sioux Falls, USA, USGS (available at http://glcfapp.umiacs.umd.edu:8080).

Distribution of irrigated area in Portugal by NUTS-2 region:

NUTS-2 region Area equipped for
irrigation 1999 (ha)
Açores 0
Alentejo Central 42 675
Alentejo Litoral 40 289
Algarve 30 013
Alto Alentejo 39 974
Alto Trás-os-Montes 68 884
Ave 23 844
Baixo Alentejo 39 357
Baixo Mondego 26 619
Baixo Vouga 20 156
Beira Interior Norte 30 058
Beira Interior Sul 25 546
Cávado 28 168
Cova da Beira 23 507
Dâo-Lafôes 37 828
Douro 24 219
Entre Douro e Vouga 7 632
Grande Lisboa 9 185
Grande Porto 16 717
Lezíria do Tejo 85 981
Madeira 4 751
Médio Tejo 16 519
Minho-Lima 25 692
Oeste 22 605
Península de Setúbal 21 927
Pinhal Interior Norte 10 080
Pinhal Interior Sul 4 359
Pinhal Litoral 9 937
Serra da Estrela 9 241
Tâmega 46 245
Portugal, total 792 008
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