Environment, Construction and Sustainable Development - Vol. 1

Environment, Construction and Sustainable Development - Vol. 1

Environment, Construction and Sustainable Development - Vol. 1

Environment, Construction and Sustainable Development - Vol. 1


This book offers a complete overview of the issues affecting the construction industry in the light of environmental concern and change. The two-volume set is divided into an analysis of the environmental issues and an analysis of engineering solutions.

• Wide-ranging, comprehensive, structured treatment of a vast subject

• The only book to cover both theory and practice across all relevant issues

• International coverage, with case studies from Europe, America, Asia and Africa


Virtually all construction activities have an environmental impact on land resources, both directly, with respect to the space occupied, and indirectly, as social and economic consequences of their implementation. Similarly, most development projects involve the construction of infrastructure, which can range from complex structural building programmes in urban areas to feeder roads of minimal design for agricultural improvement schemes in remote locations. Environmental considerations in construction are thus inextricably linked with land resource issues.

This chapter addresses the relationships between construction, the environment and land use and resource management within the context of sustainable development. Different approaches to land evaluation and utilization planning are considered, including evolving development policy initiatives on requirements for rural sustainable livelihoods. The role of new technology, such as the development and applications of computer-based land information systems in planning and environmental management, are also reviewed, as well as future issues of land management, construction and the environment in sustainable development.

Definition of land resources

The definition of land resources, and the concept of land itself, can vary depending on the outlook and interests of the diverse range of people concerned with their development or utilization. In general, land resources can be considered to embrace all the characteristics of the physical environment - climate, geology, soil, hydrology, landforms, flora and fauna - which have value for human use. As the three-dimensional space within which people live, land resources may also be perceived as a commodity, location or property, as a form of capital or as ecosystems. For any interpretation, the key to sustainable development involving construction is a knowledge of the assemblage of all environmental variables which influence land use.

As human survival, welfare and development are dependent upon the available resources of the land, its management has been central to society from the birth of civilization. Although there has always been competition for land, ongoing massive increases in world population have in recent times resulted in severe shortages of available resources subject to everincreasing pressures of exploitation and ensuing environmental degradation. The world population more than tripled in the twentieth century and was increasing at 88 million a year in the 1990s. Thus food demand alone at current average levels of crop yield calls for an additional 80 000 ha of land to be brought into cultivation every day. Such extra land is not available unless it is switched from non-food crops. Otherwise the shortage can only be overcome by higher productivity from existing land resources. This pressure places emphasis in turn on conserving the productive potential of land while maintaining biodiversity and meeting the socio-economic and recreational requirements of society. It also identifies a need for rational land resource management policies whereby different types of land are utilized in ways best suited to their potential.

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