Construction And The Environment – Effects On Vegetation

Vegetation is among the clearest indicator of life in our environment (probably second to the animals). It is also a key pillar in the environmental dynamics especially the weather. Vegetation takes different forms and shapes and vary from one type of environment to the other. Construction activities affect vegetation in the following ways;

· Construction materials. Construction has drawn a lot from natural vegetation in the following forms;

o Timber: this is the most common material in construction, since time immemorial. This could either be used in its raw form for example in posts or in machined timber for example tongued and grooved panels for ceiling construction. Frames for structural work like roofing and timber walls are also a very common use of wood. Other machined forms, for example plywood are also very common in construction. The tricky thing with timber for construction is that the preferred timber comes from hardwoods, which are rare, hard to breed and take a long time to mature.

o Roof covering: reeds and such vegetation have for long been used in the form of thatch for roofing, mainly in informal settlements but also in motels and hotels, especially beach resorts.

o Furniture: Timber furniture has for long been the most preferred in houses. This has a big impact on trees as most are purely out of wood and especially hardwoods which are very hard to come by as previously explained.

· Clearance for settlements: large forests and other such vegetation’s have been cleared for settlement activities, whether for purely construction work or in combination with other activities like farming.

· Importation of vegetation and soils: introduction of alien plants, especially for landscaping compounds also affects the environment by changing things like normal photosynthesis activities by normal plants. Importation of soils will also lead to the support of different kinds of vegetation, especially where this is supplemented with irrigation.

· Dumping of material: The disposal of material, whether waste or excess spoil, introduces a new formation on which new forms of vegetation are most likely to grow. This may also lead the death of the existing vegetation.

· Dewatering of land: This is common in swampy lands and is mostly done to ensure good compaction of earth.

Following these examples, it is clear to see just how extensively the activities of construction have impacted on vegetation and by extension, on our fragile environment. It is very important to ensure that whatever technologies that are adopted in construction projects are environmental friendly, by reducing impacts to the lowest possible levels.