02 Contents Frame


context of the area concerned



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FAO land evaluation a-a1080e
40 2019 ND-CP 413905
context of the area concerned. Evaluations for unrealistic land use options should 
be avoided. The assumptions underlying evaluation differ by region and are often 
implicit. To avoid misunderstanding and to assist in comparisons between different 
areas, such assumptions should be explicitly stated.
v. Suitability refers to use on a sustained basis. The aspect of environmental 
degradation is taken into account when assessing suitable land uses. Land uses that 
are highly profitable in the short term but cause physical limitations or hazards 
in the long term are classed as not suitable for such purposes. For any proposed 
land use, the probable consequences for the environment should be assessed as 
accurately as possible and taken into consideration in determining suitability. 
The sustainability principle provides a balance to the economic emphasis in the 
Framework.
vi. Evaluation involves comparison of more than a single kind of use. Evaluation 
is only reliable if benefits and inputs from any given kind of use can be compared 
with at least one, and usually several different, alternatives. If only one use is 
considered there is the danger that, while the land may indeed be suitable for that 
use, some other and more beneficial use may be ignored.
Concepts and procedures
Land evaluation is the process of the assessment of land performance when the land 
is used for specified purposes. It involves the execution and interpretation of surveys 
and studies of landforms, soils, climate, vegetation and other aspects of land in order to 
identify and compare promising kinds of land use in terms applicable to the objectives 
of the evaluation. To be of value in planning, the range of land uses considered should 
be limited to those relevant within the physical, economic and social context of the area 
considered, and the comparisons should incorporate economic considerations. 
The Framework uniformly defines concepts related to land evaluation. Definitions 
of land, land mapping unit, major kind of land use, land utilization type, multiple and 
compound land use, land characteristics, land qualities, diagnostic criteria, land use 
requirements, limitations, land suitability, land suitability order, class, subclass, unit 
and potential suitability classification as outlined in the Framework can be consulted 
in the glossary (Annex 1 of this document). Most of the principles and concepts of the 
1976 Framework remain valid; some need amplification (Chapter 3).
The procedures described in the Framework are detailed and complex, but in 
many cases not all activities or procedures are needed for the specific goal of the land 
evaluation. The main groups of activities in a land evaluation are:
¾Initial consultations, concerned with the objectives of the evaluation, and the data 
and assumptions on which it is to be based
¾Description of the kinds of land use to be considered, and establishment of their 
requirements
¾Description of land mapping units, and derivation of their land qualities
¾Comparison of kinds of land use with the types of land present
¾Economic and social analysis
¾Land suitability classification (qualitative or quantitative)
¾Presentation of the results of the evaluation.
Although the various activities are necessarily listed in succession, there is an element 
of iteration in the procedure – there may be a considerable amount of revision to early 
stages consequent on findings during later stages. Once the land use potential has been 


Land evaluation – towards a revised framework
8
determined, land evaluation can be used as a strategic tool for land use planning (FAO 
1993; Rossiter 1996). 

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