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Principles of Environmental Management - Dr Banda Seneviratne (2007)

Principles of Environmental Management - Dr Banda Seneviratne (2007)

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Published by: Senaviratna on May 27, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Chapter 1Principles of Environmental Management1.1 Status of environmentEnvironment is rapidly changing as a result of human and geologicalinfluences resulting in chaos and hazards. This raises the need for astudy of environmental management, which not only attempt toconserve and protect, but utilise environmental resources with the bestavailable scientific methods and technologies. Environmentalmanagement began as a response to major problems like air pollution,water pollution and soil erosion. It is clear that all the environmentproblems around us are linked to these three basic damaging activities.However, we cannot conserve as we like and the rising populationsdemand that more and more resources are to be utilised if these peopleare to be provided the basic necessities of life.1.2 The traditional environmental managementThe traditional environmental management is based on the reductionof environmental impacts. Establishment of Strict Natural Reserves,Protected Forests and Grassland, Sanctuaries etc was the aim of thisfirst stage of environmental management. However this phase has tomature into a more organised way of managing the environment if weare to feed the rising populations and provide employment.1.3 The new environmental managementThe new environmental management treats environment as a multifaceted resource with enormous capacity to provide many types of items from a single unit of the resource. Here the resource is blendedin to the systems of economic development, where each and everyproduct can acquire a value. For example, a tree was treated assources of wood or crop or a unit in the protection of water source inthe old system of environmental management system. Today a tree ispart of a harvest system which produces wood, wood chips, compostraw material, preserve water and soil. Then a tree is treated as anobject to interfere with and looked after according to the principles of forest harvesting. Within the technology of forest harvesting tree ischecked for disease regularly, cleaned to avoid fungi formation,broken or damaged parts or branches of the tree (by wind, rain and
animal action) are removed and cut at the prime maturity level toobtain the best wood or wood chips for paper industry.In addition concepts of environmental change and change of environment are also considered as important in the study of newenvironmental management.Environmental change is the process of changing environment throughhuman activities with the use of technology, social and politicalideology. For example the ancient civilisation of Sri Lanka was basedon the concept of irrigation and a strong monarchical rule, whicharranged the environment to suit the sustainability of a hydrauliccivilisation. Since the arrival of western colonists, the environment of Sri Lanka was changed to suit the cultivation of tree crops and spices.We are still in this environment and begun to introduce an unplannedurban and rural settlement expansion. Therefore our environment isbecoming more and more polluted, dangerous and chaotic to live.Change of environment is the change of living environment bymigration for the purpose of living and economic activity. Migrationto farm settlements, urban areas and emigration results in change of environment. Again if these activities are not planned properly, thenew environment is subjected to pollution, becoming dangerous andchaotic to live. When emigration is not conducted in a proper mannerthe emigrants are subjected to many legal and social difficulties.The holistic view of the environment is utilised in the new concept of environmental management, where value of economic activity isweighed on the basis of its long-term sustainability within theenvironment. Therefore the new concept is constantly linked toagriculture, industry, investment, monetary policy, livelihoods andeconomic planning. This enables the environment manager to begin atthe point of investment and end at sustainable control (Figure 1.1).Figure 1.1, Flow of activity of the new environmentalmanagement systemInvestment programmeEnvironmental
natural and societal resourcesSustainability
Economic, social and institutional policiesGovernment agencies and other resources users1.4 Theoretical background to principles of environmentalmanagementEnvironmental management is required to organise and utilise theenvironmental resource with optimum benefits to the populace. In theprocess of this organisation and utilisation system two major principlesare to be followed.1.
Understand the dynamics of natural and societal systems of resource utilisation and the effect of degradation on them2.
Understand the causes of the degradation and managementsystems best suitable for control, recovery and rehabilitation -natural and human1.4.1
Understand the dynamics of natural and societal systems of resource utilisation and the effect of degradation on themThis is the primary task of environmental manager becausewithout a proper understanding of the dynamics of natural andsocietal systems of resources utilisation and the effect of degradation on them the manager cannot provide the directionrequired for the progress of the users.Firstly there is the presence of ever changing nature of valueof natural and societal resources based on the technologyavailable. It is now clear that the traditional measures of national income have a very limited relationship to the wellbeing of people. This is primarily a result of not accountingfrom the depletion of non-renewable resources anddegradation of renewable resources. For example unless netcapital formation is higher than the natural resource depletionthe economy and well being of the people are degraded. Thisis exactly the situation almost all the poor countries of theworld including Sri Lanka.

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