Vol. 3, Issue 3 (2016)
Urbanization and its effects on environmental resources: a review of key issues
Author(s): Benson Nyayieka
Abstract: Urbanization is the rapid development and transformation of a region, including increase in the size, population and human activities at a given period of time. The major problem of rapid urban growth is the changing land use patterns. Land use change is the change in land cover and land use. Uncontrolled development of towns due to rapid urbanization has led to deteriorating environmental quality, loss of prime agricultural lands, destruction of wetlands and loss of aquatic and wildlife habitats in the adjacent regions. It is globally known that urbanization, one of the major drivers of land use change, has profound impact on environmental resources. More than 10 percent of the existing urban developments in most developing nations are in environmentally sensitive areas. Therefore, the environmental impact of urbanization is certain to intensify unless there is a change in land use planning and decision-making processes. Recognition and protection of environmental resources need to be prioritized in land use planning and decision-making hierarchies. This paper examines the impact of rapid urbanization processes on environmental resources. The paper is based on secondary research and review of publications and documents dealing with natural resource management, conservation, spatial plans, physical plans, management plans and/or development plans of natural resources. From a review of the key issues, it is noted that Urbanization, which has put urban areas on soils that are best suited for other uses such as food and fibre, forests and wetlands, has resulted in rapid land use change. New homes, buildings, roads and other structures are being built every day on arable land. The underlying causes of land use change are the fundamental forces that alter one or more proximate causes and operate at regional or even global level. Most of the fundamental forces are technological, economic, political, institutional, demographic and cultural in nature. The paper recommends that developments should be guided by sound knowledge about the soil information of the urban expansion areas. Moreover, individuals and development agencies that fail to comply with regulations on environmental impact should be severely punished through strong legislation and law enforcement.