Last edited 03 Oct 2018

Natural environment


The term 'natural environment' refers to the non-human-made surroundings and conditions in which all living and non-living things exist on Earth. The common concept of the natural environment encompasses two different components:

  • Ecological units that operate as natural systems (such as soil, vegetation and so on).
  • Universal natural resources (such as air and water).

The natural environment is in contrast with the 'built environment' which refers to areas that have been fundamentally transformed and influenced by human activity, such as cities, towns, infrastructure and so on.

Environmental modelling involves the application of multidisciplinary knowledge to explain, explore and predict the Earth’s response to environmental change, both natural and human-induced.

Construction plays a central role in transforming the natural environment into the built environment, and there are many considerations and restrictions that can apply before a project is given permission to proceed in terms of how it may influence the environment.

For example, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) may be required to ensure that the environmental effects of a proposed development are properly considered. An EIA provides the local planning authority with better information to make a more informed decision about whether permission should be granted and to allow imposition of more appropriate conditions and obligations to mitigate possible negative impacts.

The green belt is intended to constrain the built environment and prevent it from spreading over the natural environment.

Designing Buildings Wiki has a wide range of articles relating to the environment, including: