The Impact of Construction on the Environment

All construction projects have the potential to impact natural habitats, wildlife, and biodiversity.


Construction impacts biodiversity throughout the whole process––before, during, and after infrastructure is built. This is because construction requires many resources, such as timber, fuel, and concrete. Some of these are natural and derived from the environment, and others are produced in ways that affect biodiversity.


Construction has both direct and indirect impacts on wildlife and the environment.



Direct Impacts


Habitat destruction or fragmentation

The use of land for construction can destroy habitats if it replaces natural areas with human infrastructure. It can also cause habitat fragmentation if the construction divides natural habitats into smaller and separated patches. This can influence species population dynamics, since many species are mobile and rely on large habitats.


Pollution of air, water, and soil

Noise and light generated during and after construction negatively affect feeding and breeding behaviors of wildlife. The wastes and debris created during construction, which sometimes include toxic chemicals, can have negative health effects for both humans and wildlife. Improperly built infrastructure may also leak sewage or other contaminants into the environment and continue to have an impact long after construction is over.



Indirect Impacts


Displacement of wildlife

When construction encroaches upon natural habitats, wildlife may need to find a new place to live. When species move to new places, this can also increase the pressure on resources and other species at the new site.


Ancillary development

Construction projects are usually followed by ancillary or secondary operations, such as electrical lines, water pipes, access roads and dredging. These projects increase human access, disturbance, and habitat degradation in formerly natural areas.



Reduce Your Construction's Environmental Impact!

  1. Minimize the footprint of your construction

  2. Choose locally sourced and eco-friendly materials whenever possible

  3. Choose materials that are durable and require less maintenance and replacement over the long-term

  4. Separate, contain, and recycle construction materials throughout the construction process

  5. Install fencing with mesh screen or other method to contain erosion and other debris within the construction site


Why are construction regulations important for biodiversity protection in Nosara?


Construction regulations are a key way that communities can protect biodiversity. Construction regulations help maintain a balance between the needs of people (for example, if new infrastructure is needed for health care or education), and the needs of biodiversity (for example, by making sure that infrastructure projects do not harm the environment).


Construction regulations also help ensure that adverse impacts on wildlife and human health are minimized and prevented.

Examples of construction regulations include:

  • Licenses or permits when dealing with protected species or habitats

  • Planning policies that guide decision making that may affect wildlife

  • "Set back" regulations that prohibit construction within a set distance from the sea or protected area

  • Laws about proper waste disposal

  • Laws about pollution prevention

  • Monitoring programs to ensure that regulations are being followed



How does construction impact sea turtles?


In many areas, the quality of nesting beaches has already been affected by beachside construction, as sea turtles are exposed to lights, activity, noise and changed physical factors.


As sea levels rise and development expands, females are forced to nest in a relatively narrower beach area, which increases their exposure to the impacts of construction and puts their nests in danger.


Incorporating environmental considerations into coastal planning is the key to finding a balance between human and environmental needs. Creating an integrated coastal management system is the best way to create a win-win situation that benefits biodiversity and our communities at the same time.


Check out our Sea Turtle Science Series to learn more about the threats faced by sea turtles and what you can do to help!



How can you build responsibly in Nosara?


The WCA is committed to building a sustainable, resilient and inclusive community. This means informing the community of safe and effective home-building practices so that all who move to the area can continue to enjoy the pristine natural environment.


As part of our Biodiversity Program, the WCA has developed a guide to help you reduce your impact on the environment. This guide contains important information for building and living in Nosara and will help you to make eco-conscious decisions. You can find it below!



 

References


Earthwatch. (n.d.). Construction. Retrieved November 07, 2020, from

http://www.businessandbiodiversity.org/construction.html


Fish, M., Côté, I., Horrocks, J., Mulligan, B., Watkinson, A., & Jones, A. (2007, October 02).

Construction setback regulations and sea-level rise: Mitigating sea turtle nesting beach

loss. Retrieved from https://www.widecast.org/What/Country/Bonaire/Docs/Fish_et_al_

(2008)_Sea_Level_Rise_in_Barbados.pdf


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WILDLIFE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION

ENVIRONMENT • SUSTAINABILITY • EDUCATION

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