Actinobacteria are major producers of secondary metabolites; however, it is unclear how they are distributed in the environment. DNA was extracted from forest, pasture and cultivated soils, street sediments (dust and material in place), and sediments affected by animal activity (e.g. guano, vermicompost) and characterised with two actinobacterial and a bacterial-specific 16S rDNA primer set. Amplicons (140/156) generated with the two actinobacterial-specific and amplicons (471) generated with bacterial-specific primers were analysed. Amplicons from actinobacterial-specific primer were disproportionately actinomycetal from animal-affected (soil) samples and street sediments and either verrucomicrobial (i.e. non-actinobacterial) and from a novel non-actinomycetal actinobacterial group for soils. Actinobacterial amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism fingerprints clustered by land use, with cultivated soils clustering apart from uncultivated soils. Actinobacterial amplicons generated with eubacterial primers were overwhelmingly from (116/126) street sediments; acidobacterial amplicons from soils (74/75). In two street samples, >90% of clones were actinomycetal. Actinomycetes are selected in terrestrial soils and sediments by cultivation, urbanisation and animal activity.