Sustainable development involves a synergic integration of social, economic, environmental, and cultural issues to a multi-scale hierarchy of territorial systems. This sentence underlines the importance of the territorial dimension of sustainability, in addition to the need for a systemic approach, and has special implications over spatial planning, accounting for the entire process related to landscapes, urban or rural settlements, including the design of sustainable constructions. The paper addresses environmental aspects of the planning process, using the Romanian planning system as a case study to look at the change of the general framework, moving from a sectoral approach to a holistic one, consistent with the recent developments of systemic ecology. In more detail, we propose a replacement of the traditional description of ‘environmental factors' - air, water, soil, fauna, and flora - with an analytical and quantitative model developed under a systemic framework. The model consists of examining the spatial levels of biodiversity (correlated to the levels of the hierarchy of territorial units) and its conservation through natural protected areas, and a transitional dynamics based analysis of changes of land cover and use to account for the impact of humans. This approach is illustrated by its application to several territorial and urban plans, carried out at different spatial scales during the recent years. The results of this process underline the importance of applying a scientific methodology, focused on the reproducibility of results, to the planning process, and suggest that an up-to-date scientific substantiation is preferable to a legalistic understanding of planning.
Alexandru Petrisor, NR&DI URBAN-INCERC, Romania
Vasile Meita, URBAN-INCERC, Romania
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