Levels of Planning

In the description of the steps, it seems that there is only one level on which land-use planning can take place, that of a relatively small area. This is not really the case; there are some levels above and beneath the local level. The following seven major levels are distinguished by the United Nations Economic and Social Council [15]:

• provincal/district,

• municipal/village,

The following five are distinguished by the FAO [14]:

• international,

• district/local/government/subnational,

• local community/watershed/ecosystem,

Global is joined with regional and called international and local is partly joined with provincial/district and partly with municipal/village. It is clear that the level of land-use planning is not always easy to establish.

How rigidly the steps that describe the land-use planning can be followed also depends on the level. On the global or international level, for example, not all people involved can be asked about their development ideas. Planning also is not as detailed at higher levels as at lower levels. At higher levels, a global direction of development is given for large areas; for example, world-scale parts of South America are designated as tropical rainforest and parts of Africa as desert. This does not mean that other land uses are not allowed; it only indicates the importance of the conservation of these types of land use in these areas or, in the case of the deserts, that very little can be done to change the present situation. Also, the boundaries of the areas or not fixed; the patches on the map only give an indication of the location of the rainforests and deserts.

On the regional or national level, the planning area is already a lot smaller and therefore the planning is more detailed. The edges of the patches better indicate what kind of land use is planned for which area, although the boundaries still are not fixed on the map. The steps of the planning procedure cannot be followed in every detail but participation is more important than on a higher level.

On the lowest level of land-use planning—the household, farm, or primary land user— planning the use of land generally is called "management of the land." Whereas the use of the land is determined at a higher level, on the lowest level, only decisions on how to implement the plan have to be made.

Very little can be said about the exact scale of the maps that can be used at the different levels. On a global or international level, the maps will be of a smaller scale; conversely, maps that show a small area are of a larger scale.

On the different levels, the land uses are not described in the same detail. Going from a small scale (global/international level) to a larger scale (local level), the land uses will be more specific. For example, agriculture can be divided into arable land and pasture. Arable land use can be specified as crop and pasture by cattle. It is not always possible, desirable, or even necessary to describe the land uses in much detail on higher levels. The data that are required to make a more detailed distinction within a land use are not always available on smaller scales. But even if these data are available, making such a detailed plan allows the planners on a lower level little space in further detailing the land use.

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