It’s no secret that when it comes to developing land, the environment is usually on the losing side. Not only are the ecological impacts of land development a serious concern to the environment, but they also pose a considerable risk to human life.
New Zealand’s wetlands, for example, are some of the most widely affected natural habitats in the entire country – either through vegetation loss, sand and gravel extractions, and draining due to rural and urban development, to name a few. It is difficult to imagine a world where developing land barely affects the environment, but many are already taking steps to maintain sustainable ecologies in terms of land development.
Many land developers in the country, such as Cato Bolam Consulatants, employ ecologists to assess the ecological impacts of land development on the environment before actually beginning the project. This includes surveying the area and determining critical resources that the land development project may affect negatively, which include land and soil, water sources, and native flora and fauna.
In the case of wetlands, these are often drained of water to make way for land development projects; and unfortunately, the consequences of draining often come back to bite us in some way. Sand and gravel extraction not only erodes the soil entirely, but the amount of sediment displaced contaminates waterways that both animals and humans rely on.
Meeting human needs
While safeguarding the environment is the main reason many land developers undertake ecological assessments, one of the underlying motives is to make sure it also meets human needs. We still depend on the environment despite how far we’ve distanced ourselves from it, and it couldn’t be any truer when it comes to creating sustainable living environments.
A better approach to land development is making the project ‘rely’ on the environment positively. Instead of displacing land and uprooting vegetation, these should coexist with buildings and commercial areas. This not only creates a sustainable environment for the native wildlife, but it also ensures that humans are still connected to nature in some way.
Creating fully sustainable ecologies is still a work in progress, but with the right motivation, it is possible to fully reduce the negative impacts of human encroachment to the environment.