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Eco-Balancing as a Guideline for Environmentally Sound Regional Planning Supported by GIS Applications

Author(s): ROMAN J. M. LENZ

Journal: Romanian Review of Regional Studies
ISSN 1841-1576

Volume: I;
Issue: 1-2;
Start page: 5;
Date: 2005;
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Keywords: GIS | Eco-balances | Environmental planning | Environmental indicators | Environmental information systems

During the last several years, environmental impact assessment, regional or spatial planning, and environmental balancing seem to develop similarities, e.g. joint basic methodological approaches such as the use of environmental indicators, the focus on same environmental goods such air, water, soil, flora/fauna, etc. (Lenz 1999). Especially GIS-based software systems show their multiple applications in these fields.After a short introduction about the central role of indicators in transdisciplinary problem solving processes, experiences from a set of regional environmental (or eco) balances show a wide range of advantages as well as disadvantages in the context of the widespread use of GIS-based planning tools. Relying on concepts and examples for the spatial eco-balances in the district of Pfaffenhofen (Upper Bavaria, Germany; cf. Lenz 1997) and the municipality of Mulfingen (Hohenlohe, Germany) - both of them related to the concept of environmental indicators of the Advisory Board of Environmental Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany (SRU 1994) and the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA 1995) - we can show GIS-based information systems of a high practical relevancy. On the basis of the GIS software ArcView, the data base management system Access, and html scripts, we developed environmental information systems to balance environmental effects in a map scale of 1:5,000 - 1:50,000, in order to provide the administration with tools for an environmentally sound and sustainable development of their area (Lenz 1997, 1999, Beuttler et al. 1999). The spatial distribution of land use types, solar energy potential, area consumption and drinking water consumption for the municipality of Mulfingen are highlighted in this paper. Still, the practical use of the systems seems to be limited due to the lack of computer skills among the administrators – even after programming graphical user interfaces for the indicator “drinking water consumption”-, as well as due to widely distributed and hard-to-access data and information sources.
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