Landscape covered by greenhouses


The coastal plain near the Spanish town El Ejido is famous for its extended greenhouses, the so-called Mar de Plástico. Covering an area of 30,000 hectares, this region has undergone significant coastal changes, which is well visible in the satellite images. An important player in Spain’s economy, the Mar de Plástico sustains over 40,000 jobs.

Hand in hand with the landscape evolution, a massive expansion of plastic greenhouses took place, shaping both the physical and socio-economic fabric of the region. Detailed analysis of satellite images allows for a deeper understanding of these changes.

The development of the Mar de Plástico has different impacts. The social landscape is in flux, with shifting employment dynamics and community structures, partly related with illegal migration. Simultaneously, ecological considerations arise, including water usage patterns and concerns about chemical runoff, prompting a deeper exploration of the delicate balance between progress and environmental sustainability.


  • Satellite Map:
    • Look at the satellite image maps and deselect the satellite image from 2022 by unticking the respective box.
    • Which land cover classes can you identify?
    • Toggle between the satellite images from 1985 and 2022. Where are the modifications of the landscape most prominent?
    • Where can you find an increase of the area covered by greenhouses, where a decrease?
    • Zoom to the town El Ejido (you can switch off the satellite images to identify the town in the Open Streetmap (OSM) map).
    • Compare the two satellite images of the town El Ejido. What can you say about the quality of the data?
  • EO Browser:
    • Open the EO Browser.
    • Find the most recent Sentinel-2 dataset covering the area displayed in the satellite map. Is it easy to find (more or less) cloud-free images? Why/why not?
    • Select a true colour visualisation.
    • Can you identify additional, recent changes in the area (check e.g. agricultural land, especially the greenhouses)?
    • Compare with the Satellite Map. Can you identify additional substantial changes?

Links and Sources

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