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The Surveyor's Role in Developing a Sustainable Society

Narelle Underwood ~ Undergraduate Thesis ~ October 2008
Supervised by Michael Green and Darryl Warry


In conclusion, the research shows that we as a society are faced with an uncertain future unless we change the way that we interact with our surrounding environment. It is clear that the surveyor’s role in developing a sustainable society is through the promotion and identification of sustainable land uses.

The past twenty years has seen a greater public awareness of the environment and our impact upon it, but it has also been an era which has seen a dramatic decline in environmental sustainability. The term ‘sustainability’ has been used so extensively over this period that it is in danger of becoming meaningless.

Rapid population growth in our city centres and urban sprawl has stretched the boundaries of our cities to unsustainable limits. Coupled with our growing dependence on cars and lack of public transport infrastructure/use indicates both social and political problems. Sustainability is therefore an issue that needs to be addressed at many levels and a significant paradigm shift is required if our society is to become sustainable. Political and social standards need to be revised nationally and internationally as well as at state, regional and local levels.

The current largest limiting factor for sustainable development appears to be economics. Development is primarily controlled by profit margins and developers need to believe that they can achieve a substantial profit. A developer is only involved for a short period of time when compared to the lifetime of a development and therefore cannot reap any benefits from the long term environmental benefits. Although in recent times there has been a consumer driven shift in the market and there have been a number of attempts to create sustainable communities such as Bingara Gorge which appear to be considerably successful and have the potential to make a substantial difference to the society that we live in.

Further research is required to monitor new and existing developments so that we can further understand the impacts on the environment in the short, medium and long term. Are the current initiatives making a difference and are the occupants experiencing any of the perceived benefits?

All of us play many roles in our society both personally and professionally. Our commitment to developing a sustainable society needs to be reflected in all aspects of these roles. Our personal roles as an individual/parent/child/sibling/friend is to make well informed decisions in our everyday life to consciously reduce our own impact on the earth. While our role as a professional surveyor is to work with other professionals to protect the welfare and rights of the community by promoting the principles of ESD. We should also be involved in the education of our clients and the general public not only about the services we can provide but also about the benefits of environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development.