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Thread: Coastal development: carrying capacity?

  1. #1
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    Coastal development: carrying capacity?

    Hi All:

    I'm working on a coastal resort master plan (100 km sq), advocating low impact, eco-tourist site. Boss wants to know: How can max load be calculated. He wants DATA (!?!- this is China...).

    Obvioulsy I am no engineer nor statistician, and he will not hire one... Is there any known way to calculate an ecological carrying capacity (the number of visitors or inhabitants an area can sustainably support)? I've got formulas and indices for land area alone, but not when in a sensitive environment - we have mangroves, mountians, rivers, marsh - everything.

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Acquire aerial photos
    Roughly delineate wetlands and other sensitive areas on the photos. Use GIS.
    Apply riparian buffers along water courses
    Demarcate steep slopes
    Map trails, roads, and other utilities through the site
    Estimate buildable areas
    Apply your land values to the buildable areas

    That's all I've got...good luck

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Yep, Plankton's got it. Map out the sensitive and unbuildable lands, eliminate those areas from the equation, and base your analysis on the buildable land, Indicate in your report why the lands were excluded. I would prioritize the sensitive lands, which ones are absolutely critical, which ones have so many environmental issues that they are unbuildable due to the role they play ecologically or if it is cost prohibitive, and indicate those area that may be buildable but have some issues (steep slopes, fault zones, etc) as alternatives in your report.

  4. #4
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    Environmental Design

    Quote Originally posted by gege127
    Hi All:

    I'm working on a coastal resort master plan (100 km sq), advocating low impact, eco-tourist site. Boss wants to know: How can max load be calculated. He wants DATA (!?!- this is China...).

    Obvioulsy I am no engineer nor statistician, and he will not hire one... Is there any known way to calculate an ecological carrying capacity (the number of visitors or inhabitants an area can sustainably support)? I've got formulas and indices for land area alone, but not when in a sensitive environment - we have mangroves, mountians, rivers, marsh - everything.

    Thanks for any help!
    This is a job for an Architect (Environmental Designer). It may be the sites that seem to be un-build-able would be the best place to build. This is to be done in sympathy with nature as good architects are trained to do. The overall density, might be one acre per person all concentrated into the built area which could be from 30 to 300 per acre in density. The architect works as coordinator (by way of clearly conceived schematic drawings) in consultation with other urban design and planning professionals such as civil engineers, landscape architects, geographers, city planners, political scientists, economist, accountants, management, et al.

    With your 100 x 100 km or 38,610 square miles think of a population of say 40.000 residents.

    What capacity do you think it will take to make the project feasible?
    Last edited by bud; 06 Jul 2006 at 1:45 PM. Reason: add title

  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I agree with Plankton. A great process for identifying optimal sites for building and sites for preserving/public use.

    Although peripherally related, I recommend a book called "Saving the Ranch" by Tony Anella. Among other things, he outlines a strategy for using a series of overlays to identify areas that are well suited for building and those best for conservation/openspace/common land. it is specifically geared toward privately owned ranch lands in the western US (which are rapidly being sold off, usually as 40 acre ranchettes), but the approach could be applied anywhere, with modifications. He considers issues such as wind direction, viewsheds, wildlife migration corridors, and more.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday
    I agree with Plankton. A great process for identifying optimal sites for building and sites for preserving/public use.

    .... Among other things, he outlines a strategy for using a series of overlays to identify areas that are well suited for building and those best for conservation/openspace/common land. He considers issues such as wind direction, viewsheds, wildlife migration corridors, and more.
    Not peripherally related, but you are describing the classical McHarg method -- I would recommend his book Design with Nature.

    Don't forget the tide / storm surge factor being on the coast.
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  7. #7
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    McHarg

    Quote Originally posted by JNA
    Not peripherally related, but you are describing the classical McHarg method -- I would recommend his book Design with Nature.

    Don't forget the tide / storm surge factor being on the coast.

    Yeah, McHarg's been translated to Chinese so my boss is sort of on boat with the overlays, but he's just so darn numerically inclined. We've been working on weather patterns/storm surge. No data on eco-corridors, etc tho.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally posted by bud
    in consultation with other urban design and planning professionals such as civil engineers, landscape architects, geographers, city planners, political scientists, economist, accountants, management, et al.
    Political scientists! LOL. Oh, that would be nice! City management has given 2.5 months for this project. I miss the USA.


    Quote Originally posted by bud
    With your 100 x 100 km or 38,610 square miles think of a population of say 40.000 residents.
    That sounds about right. Guess what? There are 40K residents there already! They will be "relocated"...

    Thanks for your help!

    G

  9. #9
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    My hunch

    Quote Originally posted by gege127
    That sounds about right. Guess what? There are 40K residents there already! They will be "relocated"...Thanks for your help! G
    I followed my intuition rather than my math which is a little fuzzy. If you meant to say 100 sq km then that would be an overall density of almost 2 per acre.

    Quote Originally posted by bud
    This is a job for an Architect (Environmental Designer). It may be the sites that seem to be un-build-able would be the best place to build. This is to be done in sympathy with nature as good architects are trained to do.
    To correct myself, I should say there are sites that are build-able that have better uses and should be reserved to the best use; for example it is shortsighted to use precious farmland to build on. That is where the skill of the architect comes in to make it feasible to build anywhere - as an enhancement to the site without destroying its natural beauty - as a flower or tree adds beauty so can architecture if properly employed.
    Last edited by bud; 07 Jul 2006 at 1:08 PM. Reason: Elucidation

  10. #10
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    Plankton is right.

    One approach is to use Plankton's equation to define the undevelopable lands/ carrying capacity, then allow flexibility in location. We did that in a hillside standards for Napa. Land over 15% was defined as undevelopable land, and density was assigned mathematically at one unit per acre for the balance of a property. Development could occur on the 15% areas if it met other criteria (visibility, soils stability, etc.). But the key value of the carrying capacity exercise is that we weren't arguing that a 50 acre site with mostly undevelopable lands would allow 50 units. The project may have gotten 2 or 3 total units on their 50 acres.

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