Goals are important in every planning situation. Often called common goals, they are stated in the planning procedure adopted by the specific nation or lower jurisdiction, such as state, province, or region. If a country has not adopted a planning procedure and a bureau is involved with the planning of the uses of the land, the bureau will have to describe the goals itself. The goals cannot be the same for each country or be stated generally for land-use planning. They also depend on the specific situation and earlier interventions, done by planning or caused by a lack of planning. How land is being used determines the goals of planning. The vision on the development and direction of the land uses is not a topic of the land-use planning process or the bureau in charge of it. Other levels of policy should develop a vision on desirable future land uses. Land-use planning is the way in which the proposed vision can be realized.
Goals can be further divided into objectives and targets . Objectives are the more detailed goals of the planning process. They allow the judging of different solutions of a concrete problem in detail in the planning area. They can be clarified after an analysis of the planning area and its problems. Usually the objectives are known beforehand because, after one has seen problems in a certain area, a proposition for land-use planning will be made. This is often even the incentive to start the planning process. In fact, usually it is the effects of the stated problems that make one realize that problems and/or opportunities exist in an area. In the analysis of the area, the cause of the problems, which is what must actually be solved through land-use planning, becomes clear. The objective then is to take away the effects of the stated problems.
The actual problem is the topic of the targets, the most detailed goals of land-use planning. They lead to the actual measures that have to be taken in an area to solve the problems, to take away the effects in such a way that it is in accordance with the vision of development. An example may clarify this.
At a certain level, it is stated that the agricultural situation in a specific area of the country should be improved. The crop production is not as high as it should be. This means that a part of farming should be improved. A way to do this is through land-use planning. In planning area X, there is a shortage of water. The production in this area can be improved by irrigation. Perhaps there is no irrigation system or the existing irrigation system does not work well enough. The goal of land-use planning is to improve the crop production. The objective is to improve the water supply. The target is either building an irrigation system or improving the existing one.
If the water used in the irrigation system comes from a stream and this stream also is used for transport of the crops to the market, there should remain enough water in the stream that this latter function will not be lost. With this example, it is shown that goals, objectives, and targets can be conflicting. Therefore, it is necessary to look at alternatives for solving the problems. In this example, it could be that transport of the products is possible through another mode, for example, by building a road to the market. If the costs of this road are less than the loss in production, and if the water from the stream is not used for irrigation, it is more profitable to build the road.
Goals and objectives also identify the best use of land. If two different forms of land use give exactly the same profit (economically and socially, which in practice is hardly ever the case), the goal will determine which of the two land uses should be implemented. For example, an analysis may show that a dairy farm can produce as much as an arable farm on the same area. If the goal is to improve the dairy production, the best land use will be dairy production. If the goal is to improve crop production, the best land use is crop production.
The possible goals of land-use planning depend on the present situation, the earlier measures, and the developments proposed or desired by bureaus (or agencies) of several levels of government. The following describes a few possible goals of land-use planning.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)  distinguishes three different goals of land-use planning: efficiency, equity and acceptability, and sustainabil-ity. Efficiency refers to the economic viability of the land-use plan: The plan should yield more than it costs. However, it is not always clear which land use is the most profitable one; this depends on the point of view. A farmer, for instance, has a different point of view than the government, so they do not necessarily have to agree about which land-use plan is best.
Equity and acceptibility represent the social part of land-use planning. The plan must be accepted by the local population; otherwise, the proposed changes will not take place. People will not cooperate if they do not agree with the plan. Equity refers to the leveling of the standards of living by land-use planning. People living in the planning area have to gain from the land-use plan even if they do not own a farm. Others state that a plan should be a fair and just consideration and treatment for all those affected by a plan or course of action .
Sustainability is, as stated before, an important part of land-use planning. It meets the needs of the present while conserving resources for future generations. One should use the present resources to meet today's needs but also reserve the resources to be able to use the land in a different way if needed in the future. Other goals could be :
• Livability. After the land-use plan is implemented, the area should still be a suitable place to live for the people who were already there.
• Amenity. The land-use plan should have provisions for making life pleasant.
• Flexibility and choice. The plan should leave options for individuals to fill in by themselves. The plan should not dictate to people what to do. If this is the case the plan probably will not be accepted, and so, this goal is basically the same as acceptability.
• Public involvement in the planning process. Every group or individual with an interest in the plan should be able to participate in the process. They should be able to defend their interests in the land-use plan, to keep their land use from disappearing through the plan, or to be offered a new land use as part of the plan. This both helps the planners (who could have forgotten a possible land use, or have not thought of the right motives to include the particular land use in the plan) and the interest groups or individuals because they can exert an influence on the plan and are not restricted to only the "hope that everything will be all right."
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