3. Approaches

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An important prerequisite for effective regional planning is the transfer of political and administrative power, decision-making and management structures to regional and local level. Countries differ in the progress made in this respect and are often found wanting. Only very few countries have created institutions at regional level endowed with appropriate authority, planning powers and finance10). In some cases regional planning is largely done by the national planning bodies and thus has little connection with the region. The failure of decentralisation initiatives often results from:

10) Where political subdivisions exist (departments, districts, states, provinces) these levels are used to implement regional planning

- fears that power will be lost as a result
- the financial resources required (cost factor) or insufficient allocations to lower levels
- the additional monitoring which decentralisation must entail (with its foreseeable inadequacies)
- conflicts of distribution and demarcation (clashes)
- lack of suitably qualified staff prepared to commit themselves to the region
- policies that are still biased towards the country's capital.

This means that numerous obstacles have to be overcome in the political and administrative spheres, such as

- imposing regional (cross-sectional) interests as opposed to the sector-bias in politics and administration
- strengthening decentralised interests as opposed to structurally privileged national interests
- coordinating subregional institutional interests (e.g. of communes) at regional level
- mobilising and motivating local/regional self-help initiatives (public involvement, information etc.).

3.1 Prerequisites and general conditions

As a prerequisite, national and regional planning bodies as well as planning procedures, structures and tools must be strengthened and developed. This involves learning technical skills, improving efficiency and increasing the possibility of exerting influence on sector plans and regional policy (policy consultation). The planning bodies must be able to carry out and implement procedure-based area planning.

This can only be achieved in the long term if conditions in terms of institutions, organisations, information and staff are improved step by step and made to work together in optimum fashion. For project preparation in conjunction with a 'feasibility' study, the preconditions listed in Summary 3 should be checked (deficit analysis), and from this it is possible to identify initial development objectives and to prioritise these where appropriate; the findings from the initial situation or deficit analysis are of fundamental importance to the structuring of the work. The following summary shows a possible method of approach and lists principal subject areas for structuring the development objectives in area planning.

Summary 3 - Analysis of prerequisites for area planning


Institutional organisation

Objective: Promotion/optimisation of the development organisation (position in political/administrative system) and of the executive organisation (communication and coordination capability in relation to other executive bodies and decision-makers)

· Analysis of institutional development organisation (integration into horizontal and vertical)

- Level and location of institution responsible for area planning
- Existence of other environmentally relevant planning bodies - demarcation of competencies
- Powers to exert authority and take decisions
- Existence of coordinating and interfacing bodies
- Existence and organisation of testing, inspection and approval bodies; compliance monitoring bodies
- Existence of state and non-state organisations outside the administration (particularly environmental and women's organisations), estimation of potential for collaboration

· Analysis of executive organisation for integrated area planning

- Existence of procedural rules and regulations for planning process
- Analysis of possible forms of participation
- Procedural rules for execution of coordination tasks (information, participation and harmonisation and approval procedures)
- Possibility of involvement by those affected (organisations, associations etc.)

Prerequisites in terms of information

Objective: Targeted, problem-oriented elimination of information deficits.

Long-term: Establishment of an information system.

· Identification of information holders (institutions)

- Nature/subject area of data
- Accessibility
- Form in which available, degree to which data has been processed

Prerequisites in terms of staff

Objective: To improve the technical qualifications of staff responsible for area planning, particularly in respect of problems posed by environmental conservation and rural ecology; promotion of interdisciplinary working groups

- Quantity and training of staff
- Training and further education (see above)
- Which tasks can be undertaken with existing personnel?
- Are interdisciplinary working groups possible?
- Who can undertake, and above all continue, coordination and guidance of the working groups?

Public relations activities

- Sensitivity of the political and administrative establishment and of those dealing with environmental problems (increasing consciousness, problem-awareness)
- Existing participatory initiatives (through women's groups etc.)
- Exchange of information with organisations and those affected


Other important general conditions for the implementation of environment-oriented area planning are: The status of and potential for public involvement, planning law and administration (procedural) law, the status of national environmental legislation and national environmental programmes. The following are some of the aspects to be considered when assessing the possibilities of implementation:

Summary 4 - General legal conditions of implementation


General legal conditions

Objective: To ascertain the complementary measures necessary to improve the general conditions of implementation, particularly ecological factors, in addition to 'institution-building' measures

· Environmental law

- Status of environmental legislation for the different environmental media (e.g. water laws, immission laws) as well as limits and guideline values based on such legislation for emission control or 'immission limits', particularly of pollutants, for sensitive land-uses (e.g. habitation, drinking water protection, protection of (flowing) waters)
- Existence of minimum quality requirements for food and drinking water and guidelines for handling substances hazardous to water, soil and health
- Existence of specialised planning laws (e.g. for refuse and wastewater management) covering organisation of the sponsoring organisation and treatment of substances which affect the environment
- Existence of international conservation area conventions and national conservation regulations

· Planning and procedural law

- Existence of legally enshrined norms and standards for planning and building
- Status of legislation governing spatial and regional planning (area planning laws)
- Status of legislation covering participation, coordination and approval procedures; regulation of harmonisation obligations

· Disciplinary and criminal law

- Status of organisation and institutionalisation of state enforcement bodies (e.g. TÜV (technical inspection association), industrial emission monitoring authority, state forestry authority for timber use)


The status of environmental, administrative and planning law11) depends on the degree of decentralisation and environmental awareness on the part of the political establishment. However, environmental conservation in area planning fails more often because enforcement cannot be verified rather than because of the lack of a legal framework. The main enforcement pitfalls are institutional, informational and organisational shortcomings in administration, the fragmentation of responsibilities and the absence of decision-making and supervisory powers.

11) cf. international environmental legislation documentation (Environmental Law Center, Bonn). In the absence of environmental regulations, reference must be made to international atmospheric emission protection data (e.g. from the WHO) or else Federal German standards may be used (e.g. those in the Federal Immission Control Act [BImSchG]) (with safety margins/worst case assumptions where applicable).

For area planning, land law (e.g. communal ownership) is also a fundamental problem when implementing planning functions (particularly in connection with uncontrolled growth of settlements and slum development), since very often rights of ownership, conditions of access and rights of use are not clearly regulated.

Environmental regulations are often flouted by the population, partly from ignorance and partly from need. Particularly in rural areas, traditional modes of behaviour and social control mechanisms are more highly regarded than legal requirements. On the other hand, traditional, ecologically balanced uses of resources are being displaced by modern developments (e.g. modernisation of agriculture). In this case the planners' function is to analyse the status ante-quo and promote appropriate further development.

Numerous countries have established various forms of national environmental (protection) plans or programmes (e.g. national environmental action plans, within the framework of 5-year plans, cf. IUCN bibliography). If agriculture, forestry or water ministries are responsible for devising these plans, they will generally be limited in terms of geographical scope (e.g. rural areas only) and/or concentrated on problems of individual sectors. Environmental programmes are frequently ineffective due to inadequately specified initiatives, lack of geographical scope or the fact that the programme is not geared to the problems of the sector or environmental medium in question. To improve implementation, as in the case of area planning, it is necessary to modify numerous general conditions or implement additional measures12) (particularly in the socio-economic sphere).

12) e.g. legislation, land price and stockpiling policy, rights of ownership, fiscal policy, economic and market policy etc.

The existence of national environmental programmes may make it easier to allow for environmental aspects in area planning if they enable political objectives to be tackled; problem by problem these must then be differentiated, clearly specified and regionalised with the creation of a geographical frame of reference.

An important starting point for improving both preconditions and the chances of implementation is the procurement and preparation of information relevant to the planning and in particular to the environmental aspects. In many countries a serious lack of information must be expected, particularly relating to issues of land ecology. International environmental information systems are available, such as GRID (Global Resource Information Data Base, UNEP); INFOTERRA (International System of Environmental Information, UNEP/UN).

During the 'run-up' stage it is often necessary to establish basic information. From the ecological point of view (cf. ARSU 1989), this should:

- be gathered and evaluated with full area coverage
- be geographically assigned (regionalisable)
- cover the different environmental media (soil, water, air)
- allow problem-related generation of significant indicators for ecological questions
- be capable of continuation, to allow environmental monitoring where applicable (success verification).

Underlying environmental data must be gathered and evaluated taking account of regional problem areas. The planner must reach decisions in each individual case on the type and extent of the information needed and the way it has to be processed. However, it is important that the data should reflect the essential resource-specific characteristics (and sensitivities) of the region.

Very often the use of electronic data processing is not justified in rural regions or even in some countries as a whole for reasons of cost, given that it may be impossible to guarantee the long-term management and updating of the information and that the use of technology does not necessarily lead to solutions, with the particular risk that it may become an end in itself. Simple information systems such as maps and plans as well as surveys and land registers are preferable.

"Second generation" satellite pictures (LANDSAT-5-TM, SPOT, KFA-1000) are extremely important sources of information for regional planning (scale > 1:50,000). Assuming they are justified in terms of time and cost, these may be used:

- to generate underlying maps (topographic maps)
- to generate land-use maps (actual use)
- to make assessments under certain ecological conditions13) such as:
- location and identification of vegetation stocks, their composition and vitality (forest damage mapping)
- hydrological, geological and pedological mapping
- recording of land damage (due to erosion, felling, flood, landslide, forest damage etc.).

13) Possible with LANDSAT Thematic Mapper Images and images with thermal scanners

Other important information sources include - if available - environmental conservation plans and sector-specific plans (particularly for the agriculture, forestry and water management sectors). The latter, as 'handed-down' plans, are often based on relatively good land maps, climatic data and sometimes also hydrological data, though often the degree of sophistication of such data leaves much to be desired.

The data is processed with the aim of producing a cartographic representation of problem areas and conflicts. The maps should be arranged thematically according to individual natural resources14) or alternatively according to problem subject areas (e.g. pollutant emissions and natural resources affected; extent of erosion in evidence and the consequences). Problem and conflict areas can be revealed by means of overlays.

14) cf ARL 1990: Maps of natural regional potential

Through the processing and compression of data in the planning process, the planning documents and results themselves develop into an information tool, assuming a key position among the coordinating and regulatory tools available to the planners.

The information tools 'structural program' or 'regional plan' must therefore be conceived with ease of access for other planning and decision-making bodies in mind (black-white representation, thematic survey maps, tabular summaries and surveys, data registers etc.).

3.2 Incorporation/application of elements of ecological planning

In countries where area structure plans exist or where regional planning is already quite well established, it is possible to use siting procedures geared primarily to functional aspects (e.g. state of development, foundation soil, proximity to mains supply and disposal facilities, occurrence of raw materials, workforce potential), combined with exclusion criteria15) relating to each particular type of project (e.g. position in flood plain, proximity to residential areas) and with the identification of 'no-go areas'16) for projects with major environmental impacts. The latter must be demarcated on the basis of conservability criteria and on the basis of loading criteria (sensitivity of environmental resources and uses). Designated conservation areas of national and international significance for the protection of species and habitats17) must be regarded as strict 'no-go areas'; likewise national parks, nature conservation areas and zones which shall or should receive similar status in future.

15) cf. the (sector-specific) checklist approach of various 'Environmental Guidelines'. ADB 1987, ADB 1988a and 1988b; MORGAN/NG 1990; WORLD BANK 1988.

16) cf. also ADB 1989: 'Ecologically Sensitive Areas'.

17) cf. IUCN bibliography (Directory of Internationally Significant Conservation Areas).

'No-go areas' may include the following:

- conservation areas for specific environmental uses (e.g. (drinking) water conservation areas, recreational areas close to areas of human habitation)
- areas with special conservation, compensating and regenerative functions, such as
- flooding or retention areas for regulation and regeneration of the water system
- areas with immission protection and climatic regeneration functions (particularly in towns and cities)
- vegetation stocks protecting against climatic effects, immissions and erosion
- areas with problems, in need of protection or particularly sensitive areas such as
- categorized areas in environmental protection plans (e.g. air pollution control areas), parameters e.g. for noise reduction or thermal load distribution, refuse and wastewater disposal
- areas highly susceptible to erosion.

The aim of geographical delineation of no-go areas should be to safeguard certain resource and conservation functions of nature and to prevent other forms of use which cause problems (conflict avoidance). The efficacy of this measure increases with growing political authority in integrated area planning as opposed to sector-specific planning.

3.3 Sector-oriented and cross-sectoral approaches

In countries where integrated area planning is not yet established or is difficult to implement, environment-oriented planning initiatives must be adopted for pragmatic reasons as part of the process of 'ecologisation of sector planning' or of promotion of integrated planning initiatives (e.g. integrated rural development); sector plans (above all for their political enforcement potential) may prove helpful in the implementation of ecological objectives. For this it is necessary to develop foundations/criteria for the 'ecologisation of sector planning' or for its 'extension to cover environmental aspects' (e.g. refer to DOOLETTE/MAGRATH 1990 in respect of water resources management).

In addition, criteria can be devised for use appropriate to the site and geared to sustainability and incorporated into the objectives of sector plans; these criteria are aimed primarily at limiting intensity of use.

The problem lies in determining the limits of 'ecological viability' of a site, beyond which degradation phenomena and environmental damage (caused primarily by arable farming or stock-rearing on land unsuited to that purpose) will occur. The first step is therefore to establish criteria relating to the ecosystem in question for geographical demarcation of areas not suitable for arable farming or stock-rearing. The standard for determining the 'acceptable degree of exploitation' of natural potential is the preservation of lasting capacity for qualitative and quantitative regeneration within the system context. It may be necessary to suggest alternative forms of use (e.g. mixed agro-forestry use) to safeguard the food supply. Various 'eco-development' approaches may be applied, particularly in respect of agriculture and forestry appropriate to their particular location. In this context reference should also be made to the promotion of appropriate technologies.

A precondition for the development of sector-oriented measures and requirements is the formulation of a cross-sectional system of objectives for environment-oriented development covering the entire region. The contributions made by sector plans can be measured and assessed against these proposed objectives (checked against standards).

The chances of implementing sector planning requirements through retrospective restrictions and conditions of use are regarded as remote, because enforcement and punishment of violations cannot be guaranteed.

Integrated planning approaches specially related to the promotion of rural development also have positive impacts from the ecological point of view through their coordinating effect in terms of the harmonisation of development objectives and environmental planning measures in the different sectors (agriculture, forestry and water management). However, the very complexity of the coordination tasks to be performed within the context of these approaches shows the limits of what is achievable within the framework of development objectives.


4. Summary

The exploitation of a country's natural resources is essential to its socio-economic development. The 'limits of ecological viability' are exceeded when overuse and uncontrolled pollutant emissions cause irreversible degradation of the ecosystems combined with a fall in productivity, resulting in contamination of the systems on which food production depends and direct endangerment of health. Integrated area planning and the range of measures available to it are required to help relieve the situation through the establishment of general socio-economic and ecological conditions. From the ecological point of view, this is possible:

- through plans aimed at environment-oriented development of land-use patterns, taking account of sensitivity and the need for protection of the natural environment
- through rehabilitation plans for improvement in particular of environmental quality in areas where adverse impacts on the environment are highly concentrated
- through conservation and regeneration plans aimed at avoiding additional environmental problems and restoring the productiveness of natural resources
- through the development and creation of environment-oriented data bases as an indispensable prerequisite for consideration of ecological factors.

The following may be summarised as guidelines for environment-oriented integrated area planning:

(1) There must be general analysis of transferability to the country in question of area development plans. The concepts governing spatial and regional planning policies as well as tools and procedures must be geared to local problems and what is 'feasible' (reasonable, on an appropriate scale) in the country concerned.

(2) Area planning as a process requires a long-term guarantee of suitable support or general conditions.

(3) In the context of environmental care ecological interests must be incorporated into the planning process as early as possible. Work must therefore often begin during the data preparation phase.

Geographical allocation of uses should not increase adverse impacts at all; instead of rigid functional separation, a mix of functions should be sought, with adherence to land-use regulations and pollution/(emission) limits. Objectives and measures should be geared more closely to environmental care.

(4) The aim of ecological planning, to preserve the productive capacity of the natural environment and ensure the sustainability of natural resources, must be incorporated into integrated planning and into sector planning.

Against the background of restrictions to which area planning is subject in many countries, often the first task is to create or improve the general conditions necessary for implementation in terms of information, staff, institutions and organisations.


5. References

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ADB 1988b: Environmental Guidelines for Selected Infrastructure Projects. Ed.: Asian Development Bank (ADB), Environmental Unit.

ADB 1989: Minimum Quality Criteria for Ecologically Sensitive Areas, Asian Development Bank (Ed.), ADB-Environment Paper No. 4.

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