The Connection Between Spatial Planning and Sustainable Land Use Management

To understand how spatial planning relates to sustainable land use management, it is essential to understand the function of spatial planning. In essence, the latter is a function performed in the public sector regarding the distribution of land use activities in a particular geographical area.

What Is Spatial Planning?

It entails the organisation of spaces and the uses thereof. It is essential to create a balance between the demands for spatial development and the protection of the land in use. Social and economic objectives should be attained while using land effectively, as opposed to stripping the land or spoiling it for future generations.

Spatial planning, if the right principles are followed, helps to improve quality of life and ensures sustainable economic and social development. It is a method whereby the public sector ensures the distribution of activities and people according to a plan (typically a Spatial Development Framework) for improvement in the organisation of the social, structural, and economic development of communities.

It involves various disciplines and includes aspects of urban planning, transportation planning, and land use management. It can take place on various levels – local, national, or international. The focus of modern spatial planning is to encourage sustainable development. The latter is development that minimises the environmental impact whilst meeting the needs of current and future communities. As such, it also entails the distribution and use of resources to ensure equal distribution amongst the communities in a specific region, province, or country.

What Is Land Use Management?

In the simplest of terms, it is the regulation of how humans use the available land. It entails the organisation, management, and modification of the environment. Land use management entails the creation of policies regarding how natural habitats are to be used, which activities to allow on which pieces of land, and how to ensure the best use of resources with a minimal impact on the resources. The land use management function directly affects natural resources such as soil, water, animals, plants, and more. It is thus essential to set and follow policies that create a balance between human needs and environmental needs. A land use scheme is typically used by a municipality to achieve this.

Urban sprawl has a devastating effect on land. As such, it is essential to put policies in place to manage which pieces of land can be used for which purposes. Unorganised distribution of humans and economic activities leads to shortages of services and infrastructure. This, in turn, leads to a negative environmental impact. If communities are simply allowed to erect settlements wherever they like, such as on the banks of rivers, then water resources can become so polluted that the resources are risked to the level of complete habitat destruction. If left unmanaged, it can lead to a shortage of natural resources, which in turn can cause economic and social problems. Every decision regarding land use management, therefore, affects future generations.

Deforestation has, for example, a negative effect on resources. It can come about as the result of urban sprawl. Likewise, the pollution of water resources by industries can lead to groundwater poisoning. This can affect farming activities and ultimately the quality of produce. Humans are negatively affected by lower-quality produce. Health problems develop and the humans become less productive. More sick people mean more need for medical facilities etc. It is thus a cycle of negative impacts.

Proper spatial planning focused on sustainable development includes the creation of sustainable land management policies and the enforcement of such through the mechanism of a land use scheme. The two thus work together to create better living, social, economic, political, and environmental conditions. With such, the resources are protected and preserved for generations to come. It is thus a long-term approach to ensure sustainable human activities and the distribution thereof.

Cities cannot flourish without the availability of food, energy, water, and minerals obtained from the environment surrounding such cities. Pollution must thus be kept to a minimum and activities must be organised to minimise the environmental impact, if the cities of South Africa are to flourish.

How We Can Help

As spatial planning and land use management experts, we research and craft guidelines for strategic development planning and land use schemes for provincial, local and metropolitan authorities. Our services are also valuable in terms of planning the arrangement of land use categories with consideration of factors such as the need for transport, energy, and water. Get in touch with our team for guidelines and assistance in the creation of spatial planning and land use management policies.