Geonatural Resources Planning, a comprehensive program specifically initiated to conduct a detailed inventory and analysis of the Earth's natural resources, is relatively new to the field of planning. The composite view obtained allows more objective and logical development alternatives to be derived. In turn, decision makers are provided with greater validity of opinions on which they can base their decisions.
The term "geonatural resources" was derived by combining the Greek word "geo," meaning "of the Earth," to the words "natural resources." Specifically, the geonatural or the physical aspects of man's surroundings will refer to the biogeochemical systems and elements, including ecological interrelations, that exist and are part of the life support zone (biosphere) of the Earth. The philosophical foundations of geonatural resources planning are based upon notions of man's behavior, man's use and value of the land, human holding capacities of the land, and the limitation of economic growth.
The major areas of concern are the elements of the defined ecosystem, effects of land use decisions on the ecosystem, economic factors of land use decisions, and the dynamics of the time dimension within the various component relations over time. The conceptual framework consists of three components: (1) to systematically define the elements to be investigated, potential problems, and options; (2) to discuss the tools required to conduct and implement comprehensive programs; and (3) to discuss some of the probable limitations. Emphasis is placed upon the use of engineering geology as an integral element of geonatural resources planning.
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The rapid increase in the development of land, the exploitation of minerals, and the related accelerated environmental impacts have caused an explosion of demand for information that can be used as a guide to land use decision-making. “Environmental Geology Mapping” was the topic of an engineering geology symposium at the 1972 annual meeting of The Geological Society of America; natural resources planning and the roles and interrelations of geology and geologists, planning and planners were discussed. This book presents the coverage of those subjects because of their continuing timeliness and the need for a reminder that we must provide data that are relevant and usable for interdisciplinary considerations in natural resources planning. The authors express their ideas on how to translate professionally the traditional, basic earth-science data into forms that are adaptable to interdisciplinary solutions of environmental problems. They unanimously state that this conversion of data has to result in a viable input for decision-making, and it must also stand the scrutiny of the real world; that is, it must receive public endorsement and support.