Assessing environmental fragility in a mining areafor specific spatial planning purposes

Abstract

Environmental fragility in a mining area is evaluated both in terms of its biophysical (natural) and socio-economic components and their anthropogenic interactions. We identified multiple criteria and indicators for this task, but then reduced these according to responses given by 60 experts in domains related to spatial planning. We used the selected criteria and indicators to develop environment fragility indices for each territorial administrative unit (LAU2) in Gorj County in south-western Romania. The resulting indices reveal quite large spatial variations in fragility and evidence that highly fragile human and physical environments are to some extent intertwined. In this respect, such environmental components as climate, soils, ecosystems, natural hazards and economic issues provide constraints on human activities, whilst humans themselves can, without sufficient care, increase fragility and adversely affect the quality of living environments for present and future generations. We also explore how such estimates of natural and anthropogenic fragility might enable better specific planning for local and regional development that aims to ameliorate both environmental and human adversity in an integrated way.

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