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Land Use - Uses Of The Land

natural systems types industrial

Particular areas of land can be utilized by humans in diverse ways. These can include residential, institutional, business, industrial, agricultural, forestry, park, and other relatively natural land uses. Each of these broader categories can be further subdivided, based on the nature and intensity of the activities that are undertaken.

Residential land uses, for example, can involve single-family dwellings on large or small lots, or aggregations of multiple-unit dwellings of various sorts. The most intensive residential land-uses are associated with clusters of apartment buildings, which can support extremely large densities of human populations.

Institutional land uses are mostly associated with land that is occupied by public buildings such as schools, universities, government office buildings, art galleries, and museums. These facilities are most commonly located in urban or suburban areas. Business land uses are rather similar in many respects, and are mostly associated with land that is appropriated to retail facilities of various types, and with office buildings.

Industrial land uses are extremely varied, depending on the nature of the industry being considered. Urban-industrial land usage generally refers to the siting of factories or petroleum refineries, and of utilities such as electricity generating stations, and water- and sewage-treatment facilities. Industrial land use in rural areas can include mines, smelters, and mills for the production of The Incas used terraces to make optimal use of the limited land areas available for cultivation. These terraces are found near Machu Picchu, Peru. JLM Visuals. Reproduced by permission.
ores and metals; mines and wellfields for the production of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas; and large water-holding reservoirs for the production of hydroelectricity.

Land uses for agriculture and forestry are also types of industrial land uses, in this case involved with the production of food or tree-fiber as renewable resources. The nature of agricultural land uses depends on the types of crops and agronomic systems, which can vary from intensively managed monocultures, to more organic systems involving annual or perennial crops and little use of fertilizers or pesticides. Similarly, the intensity of land use in forestry varies from systems involving clear-cutting and the establishment of short-rotation plantations, to selection-harvesting systems with long-spaced interventions.

Some land uses associated with parks and golf courses also represent intensive modifications of the natural landscape. The management practices required to maintain these lawn-dominated ecosystems are similar to those utilized in some types of monocultural agricultural systems. Other types of parks, however, are little changed from the natural state of the land, and they may only involve the development of a few access roads, unpaved trails, and interpretation facilities.

The last major category of land use is really a nonuse, and involves designation of an area as an ecological or wilderness reserve. In most cases, this sort of land-use designation precludes the exploitation of natural resources by mining, forestry, or agriculture, and usually by hunting and fishing as well. However, scientific research and recreational activities that do not require extensive facilities, such as hiking and canoeing, may be permitted in many areas designated for natural land use.


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