The key role of water in the landscape system
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The leading role of water and its interactions with other key environmental elements was well understood already in Antique time. Due to the later fragmentarization of science, this leading role seems to have become hidden, if not neglected. Today, both life-support systems and the productivity of land and water systems are increasingly threatened by human pressure, influencing water availability, water-related land productivity, water quality and productivity of aquatic ecosystems. The world may in fact be approaching or even overshooting its carrying capacity in certain regions, producing quite dangerous conditions. Basically, the anthropogenic influences from a rapidly growing world population with rising demands will produce a reshaped landscape with altered ways of functioning, and a growing water crowding.
Paying due attention to water phenomena and functions, this modified landscape has to be analyzed to identify the new strategies by which life support can be managed in the future. A conceptual base is urgently needed, addressing both natural and anthropogenic conditions and phenomena. In follow up of Agenda 21, the paper focuses on landscape analysis for the integration of land and water. It analyzes the main natural components of landscape systems and the ways in which the determinants are being influenced by human activities. A multitude of different interactions between land characteristics and water phenomena are identified. Due to the integrity of the water cycle, these interactions will have to be synthesized and integrated. When the natural funtions of a particular landscape are known, together with the anthropogenic pressure and the various influences from which it is composed, the landscape analysis in this paper may be useful in support of planning, projection and conceptualization of landscape management and spatial organization of land.
KeywordsWater Quality Water Cycle Anthropogenic Influence Anthropogenic Pressure Land Productivity
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