Our natural resources are finite. Nevertheless, their consumption continues to increase. To protect the environment and for future generations, we have to counteract this development.
As the economy grows, people’s wellbeing also increases – this was the motto for centuries. Today this guiding principle has had its day. Climate change threatens the livelihoods of millions, and natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce. Despite growing gross domestic product, people fear for the future of their children and grandchildren.
Importance of Saving Natural Resources
As we all know, including natural goods, are components or functions of nature that have an economic benefit. Natural resources including raw materials and components of the environment such as soil, air, water, or genetic diversity all are really beneficial for us and it is the hour of need to save natural resources.
A distinction can be made between two basic types, the non-regenerated and the regenerated resources. Non-regenerated natural resources are exhaustible raw materials such as ores, coal, and petroleum (fossil fuels). They form so slowly that, from a human point of view, a fixed amount of stocks must be assumed. Regenerated natural resources are the soil with its fertility (soil fertility), water resources (bodies of water, water), air (atmosphere), to a limited extent flora and fauna (biodiversity) and renewable energy sources (e.g. sun, wind, tides). The landscape with its recreational value can also be viewed as a natural resource. Resource management makes an important contribution to protecting natural resources.
Natural resources as the basis of human life
Natural resources (soil, water, air, natural diversity) are essential foundations of human life and business. Nature and landscape have their own value that justifies their protection. They provide valuable services for people and society and represent important location factors. In connection with the goal of sustainable spatial development, the protection of natural resources must be of great importance.
Natural resources under pressure
Based on a narrow concept of sustainability, there are serious problems in dealing with natural resources. These include, for example, greenhouse gas emissions, the persistently high land use due to the expansion of settlement and traffic areas, or intensive agricultural use over large areas. Despite advances in nature and environmental protection, e.g. B. in the designation of protected areas or in climate protection, economic concerns often have priority over ecological concerns. As a result, ecological goals such as the conservation of biodiversity or the decline in land use are often not achieved.
Natural resources and spatial planning
Spatial planning contributes significantly to the protection and security of natural resources. Sufficient and properly networked areas for nature conservation, areas for preventive flood protection, areas for renewable energies and energy-efficient settlement structures are, to name just a few examples, decisive for sustainable spatial structures. Accordingly, the ARL in Research Field III focuses on planning-related questions in dealing with natural resources and our environment.
Natural resources, environment, ecology in the ARL
The focus of research in research field III in the period 2010-2020 is on the topics of multifunctional land use, dealing with uncertainties (e.g. in the context of climate change), protecting natural resources (especially biodiversity), integrating cultural (cultural landscape) aspects into planning as well as on the question of the database of spatial policies.