• Period | 2010 - 2012
  • Country | Europe
  • Market | Natural Hazards
  • Project Manager | Bjørn Kalsnes

R&D program | SafeLand

SafeLand is a Large-scale integrating Collaborative research project funded by the The Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7) of the European Commission.
Living with landslide risk in Europe:
Assessment, effects of global change,
and risk management strategies.

Thematically the SafeLand belongs to Cooperation Theme 6 Environment (including climate change), Sub-Activity 6.1.3 Natural Hazards. The project team composed of 27 institutions from 13 European countries is coordinated by Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI).

SafeLand will develop generic quantitative risk assessment and management tools and strategies for landslides at local, regional, European and societal scales and establish the baseline for the risk associated with landslides in Europe, to improve our ability to forecast landslide hazard and detect hazard and risk zones. The scientific work packages in SafeLand are organised in five Areas:

  • Area 1 focuses on improving the knowledge on triggering mechanisms, processes and thresholds, including climate-related and anthropogenic triggers, and on run-out models in landslide hazard assessment;
  • Area 2 harmonises quantitative risk assessment methodologies for different spatial scales, looking into uncertainties, vulnerability, landslide susceptibility, landslide frequency, and identifying hotspots in Europe with higher landslide hazard and risk;
  • Area 3 focuses on future climate change scenarios and changes in demography and infrastructure, resulting in the evolution of hazard and risk in Europe at selected hotspots;
  • Area 4 addresses the technical and practical issues related to monitoring and early warning for landslides, and identifies the best technologies available both in the context of hazard assessment and in the context of design of early warning systems;
  • Area 5 provides a toolbox of risk mitigation strategies and guidelines for choosing the most appropriate risk management strategy.

Maintaining the database of case studies, dissemination of the project results, and project management and coordination are defined in work packages 6, 7 and 8.



Reasons for research 

Landslides represent a major threat to human life, property and constructed facilities, infrastructure and natural environment in most mountainous and hilly regions of the world.


Statistics from The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) show that, on average, landslides are responsible for a small percentage of all fatalities from natural hazards worldwide. The socio-economic impact of landslides is underestimated because landslides are usually not separated from other natural hazard triggers, such as extreme precipitation, earth-quakes or floods. This underestimation contributes to reducing the awareness and concern of both authorities and general public about landslide risk.

In the last century, Europe has experienced the second highest number of fatalities and the highest economic losses caused by landslides compared to other continents (see figure below): 16,000 people have lost their lives because of landslides and the material losses amounted to over USD 1700 M in Europe during the 20th century. Within Europe, Italy has been the country that has suffered the greatest human and economic losses due to landslides. The actual casualty figures shown below are likely to be greatly underestimated in the EM-DAT because events with less than 10 persons killed are not reported. Furthermore, the number of people affected by landslides is much larger than reported: in Italy, while about 500 people have been killed by landslides over the past 25 years, the total number of persons impacted is 50 times that number.

As a consequence of climate change and increase in exposure in many parts of the world, the risk associated with landslides is growing. In areas with high demographic density, protection works often cannot be built because of economic or environmental constraints, and is it not always possible to evacuate people because of societal reasons. One needs to forecast the occurrence of landslide and the hazard and risk associated with them. Climate change, increased susceptibility of surface soil to instability, anthropogenic activities, growing urbanisation, uncontrolled land-use and increased vulnerability of population and infrastructure as a result, contribute to the growing landslide risk. According to the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection (COM232/2006), landslides are one of the main eight threats to European soils.

Water has a major role in triggering of landslides. The figure below shows the relative contribution of various landslide triggering events factor in Italy. Heavy rainfall is the main trigger for mudflows, the deadliest and most destructive of all landslides.

Many coastal regions of Europe have cliffs that are susceptible to failure from sea erosion (by undercutting at the toe) and their geometry (slope angle), resulting in loss of agricultural land and property. This can have a devastating effect on small communities. For instance, parts of the north-east coast cliffs of England are eroding at rates of 1m / yr.

As a consequence of climatic changes and potential global warming, an increase of landslide activity is expected in the future, due to increased rainfalls, changes of hydrological cycles, more extreme weather, concentrated rain within shorter periods of time, meteorological events followed by sea storms causing coastal erosion and melting of snow and of frozen soils in the Alpine regions.

The growing hazard and risk, the need to protect people and property, the expected climate change and the reality for society in Europe to live with hazard and risk and the need to manage risk are the reasons for the project consortium to carry out the SafeLand Research.


Number of fatalities (left) and cost of damage (right) caused by landslides 1903 to 2004. Source: EM-DAT
– The OFDA/CRED International Disaster database.


Landslide triggers in Italy. (Source: CNR-GNDCI AVI Database of areas affected by landslides and floods in Italy)

Consortium - partnership members

  1. NGI - Norwegian Geotechnical Institute / International Centre for Geohazards, ICG, Norway
  2. Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, UPC, Spain
  3. A.M.R.A. s.c.a.r.l.  AMRA, Italy
  4. Bureau de recherches géologiques et minières, BRGM, France
  5. Università degli Studi di Firenze, UNIFI, Italy
  6. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, IIASA, Austria
  7. Joint Research Centre, JRC, Italy
  8. Fundación Agustín de Betancourt, FUNAB , Spain
  9. Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, AUTh, Greece
  10. Universita’ degli Studi di Milano – Bicocca, UNIMIB, Italy
  11. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e.V., MPG, Germany
  12. Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici s.c.a.r.l., CMCC, Italy
  13. Studio Geotecnico Italiano S.r.l., SGI-MI, Italy
  14. University of Salerno, UNISA, Italy
  15. International Institute for Geo-information Science and Earth Observation – United Nations University, ITC, Nertherlands
  16. Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich, ETHZ, Switzerland
  17. Université de Lausanne, UNIL, Switzerland
  18. C.S.G. S.r.l. Centro Servizi di Geoingegneria, CSG, Italy
  19. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS, France
  20. King’s College London, KCL, United Kingdom
  21. Geologische Bundesanstalt (Geological Survey of Austria), GSA, Austria
  22. Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL, Switzerland
  23. TRL Limited, TRL, United Kingdom
  24. Geological Institute of Romanian, GIR, Romania
  25. Geological Survey of Slovenia, GeoZS, Slovenia
  26. Risques & Développement, R & D, France
  27. Central Recherche SA, CRSA, France


United Kingdom

Reports and deliverables from SafeLand Work Areas

Summary report.

Work Area 1:

Improving knowledge on landslide hazard (triggering and run-out models)

Deliverable 1.1: Landslide triggering mechanisms in Europe – Overview and State of the Art

Deliverable 1.2: Geomechanical modelling of slope deformation and failure processes driven by climatic factors: shallow landslides, deep landslides and debris flows

Deliverable 1.3: Analysis of the results of laboratory experiments and of monitoring in test sites for assessment of the slope response to precipitation and alidation of prediction models

Deliverable 1.4: Guidelines for use of numerical codes for prediction of climate-induced landslides

Deliverable 1.5: Statistical and empirical models for prediction of precipitation-induced landslides

Deliverable 1.6: Analysis of landslides triggered by anthropogenic factors in Europe

Deliverable 1.7: Landslide runout: Review of analytical/empirical models for subaerial slides, submarine slides and snow avalanche. Numerical modelling. Software tools, material models, validation and enchmarking for selected case studies

Deliverable 1.8: Guidelines: recommended models of landslide triggering processes and run-out to be used in QRA

Deliverable 1.9: Recommendations for run out models for use in landslide hazard and risk mapping


Work Area 2:

Quantitative risk assessment (QRA)

Deliverable 2.1: Overview of landslide hazard and risk assessment practices

Deliverable 2.2a: Examples of international practice in landslide hazard and risk mapping. Assessing the state of art of landslide hazard and risk assessment in the P.R. of China

Deliverable 2.2b: Harmonisation and development of procedures for quantifying landslide hazard

Deliverable 2.3: Overview of European landslide databases and recommendations for interoperability and harmonisation of landslide databases

Deliverable 2.4: Guidelines for landslide susceptibility, hazard and risk assessment and zoning

Deliverable 2.5: Physical vulnerability of elements at risk to landslides: Methodology for evaluation, fragility curves and damage states for buildings and lifelines

Deliverable 2.6: Methodology for evaluation of the socio-economic impact of landslides (socio-economic vulnerability)

Deliverable 2.7a: Case studies of environmental and societal impact of landslides – Part A: Rev. Case studies for environmental (physical) vulnerability

Deliverable 2.7b: Case studies of environmental and societal impact of landslides - Part B: Case studies for socio-economic vulnerability

Deliverable 2.8: Recommended Procedures for Validating Landslide Hazard and Risk Models and Maps

Deliverable 2.9: Toolbox for landslide quantitative risks assessment

Deliverable 2.10: Identification of landslide hazard and risk "hotspots" in Europe

Deliverable 2.11: QRA case studies at selected "hotspots". Synthesis of critical issues


Work Area 3:

Quantying global change scenarios (climatic and anthropogenic) and their impact on landslide hazard and risk in the future

Deliverable 3.1: Overview on and post-processing of available climate change simulations for Europe on a spatial scale of 25km with a special focus on meteorological extreme events

Deliverable 3.2: REMO climate change simulations with 10km horizontal resolution for case study sites in Southern Italy, the Alps, Southern Norway, and Romania

Deliverable 3.3: Analysis of selected extreme precipitation events with the COSMO-CLM model on a spatial scale of 2.8 km

Deliverable 3.4: Report on projected changes in meteorological extreme events in Europe with a focus on Southern Italy, the Alps, Southern Norway, and Romania:  Synthesis of results

Deliverable 3.5: Overview and interpretation of available data and information on human activity and demographic evolution

Deliverable 3.6: Database of human activity factors affecting the local landslide risk at selected sites (including maps of controlling factors and changes in these factors; land cover, demographic and economic scenarios; trajectory of key indicator of changes)

Deliverable 3.7: Expected changes in climate-driven landslide activity (magnitude, frequency) in Europe in the next 100 years

Deliverable 3.8: Changing pattern in climate-driven landslide hazard at selected sites in Europe (focus on Southern Italy, the Alps and Southern Norway) in the next 50 years

Deliverable 3.9: Methodology for predicting the changes in the landslide risk during the next 50 years at selected sites in Europe. Changing pattern of landslide risk in hotspot and evolution trends in Europe according to global change scenarios.


Work Area 4:

Development of monitoring technology, especially early warning systems and remote sensing techniques, and applications

Deliverable 4.1: Review of Techniques for Landslide Detection, Fast Characterization, Rapid Mapping and Long-Term Monitoring

Deliverable 4.2: Short-term weather forecasting for shallow landslide prediction – Methodology, evaluation of technologies and validation at selected test sites

Deliverable 4.3: Creation and updating of landslide inventory maps, landslide deformation maps and hazard maps as input for QRA using remote-sensing technology

Deliverable 4.4: Guidelines for the selection of appropriate remote sensing technologies for monitoring different types of landslides

Deliverable 4.5: Evaluation report on innovative monitoring and remote sensing methods and future technology

Deliverable 4.6: Report on evaluation of mass movement indicators

Deliverable 4.7: Report on the development of software for early warning based on real-time data

Deliverable 4.8: Guidelines for landslide monitoring and early warning systems in Europe – Design and required technology


Work Area 5:

Risk management, including toolbox or appropriate hazard and risk mitigation measures and stakeholder process for risk management

Deliverable 5.1: Compendium of tested and innovative structural, non-structural and risk-transfer mitigation measures for different landslide types

Deliverable 5.2: Toolbox of landslide mitigation measures

Deliverable 5.3: Quantitative risk-cost-benefit analysis of selected mitigation options for two case studies

Deliverable 5.4: Quantification of uncertainties in the risk assessment and management process

Deliverable 5.5: Five scoping studies of the policy issues, political culture and stakeholder views in the selected case study sites – description of methodology and comparative synthesis report

Deliverable 5.6: Development and testing of spatial multi-criteria evaluation for selected case sites

Deliverable 5.7: Design and testing: a risk communication strategy and a deliberative process for choosing a set of mitigation and prevention measures


Work Package 6:

Demonstration sites and case studies for verification/calibration of models and scenarios

Deliverable 6.1: Validation form and monograph of monitored sites and case studies


Work Package 8:

Project management and co-ordination

Deliverable 0.1: Living with landslides – European and international dimensions of the project

Deliverable 0.3: Dealing with uncertainties in modelling, prediction, and decision-making

/ Contacts

Bjørn Kalsnes

Position | Fagansvarlig Risiko og klimabelastning
RiSC – Risk, Slope stability and Climate adaptation

M | +47 911 26 128