Natural Resource Management

It's a natural resource, not unlimited.

“Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.”
Kenyan Proverb

Building with earth today, we benefit from the countless customs and discoveries of humanity down through the ages. The tradition attempted to be in harmony with Nature, to use and still respect her. There is hardly any continent or country which does not have numerous examples of earth construction. But one thing calls our attention, in the earth building history: All over the world and through millennia, one is amazed by the balance and harmony of these buildings with the landscape and the surrounding environment.

With new developments (i.e. the compressed stabilised earth blocks or stabilised rammed earth on a semi-industrial scale), one should not forget the risk of ecological disasters due to the mismanagement of resources. On the other side, a proper management of the earth resources can create a new harmonious balance between nature and the buildings, where each enriches and completes the other.

The works of the Auroville Earth Institute show that it is possible to integrate quarries into the urban landscape.

Building with earth requires first to dig a hole. Ignorant people may say: “Easy to dig anywhere as I like… and forget the rest…”
No, never this way of thinking: this will cause later on disharmony, unbalanced and ecological disorders. This kind of mind set will deplete resources and cause damage to nature! The results can be disastrous with rainwater running off due to trees cutting, breaking of natural dams, wastage of agricultural land, pollution of water tables, quarries as ugly garbage dump, etc.

One should rather say: “I need a hole of this size, and how can I foresee the best use of it in order to create a harmonious living space?”
People who respect nature would rather have this kind of approach to the develop their place. Then it will be easy to harvest rain water or treat wastewater, develop further agricultural land, protect natural resources, etc.

Soil for building is a precious material: don’t waste it. Separate the piles of topsoil from building soil. Don’t mix waste building materials with it. Use the rubble from building sites for filling the basements rather than good soil.

First of all, one should scrape away the topsoil, which can be re-used later for agriculture or gardens. Two types of quarries may be developed: deep, which can later be used for rainwater harvesting, pools, basement floors, etc., or shallow, which can be used for landscape design, work or play areas, gardens, etc.

A proper plan should be drawn up beforehand to avoid later on problems. A de-centralized approach can be the most harmonious and efficient, if well coordinated. The use of water harvesting, medium scale waste-water treatment, etc., can be integrated harmoniously into the urban environment. At this point, a co-ordination between the city / village authorities and the earth builders will profit everybody: urban development’s always need excavations somewhere and they can be made in an intelligent way by producing building materials for the local developments.

Building with earth has a great past, but also a promising future everywhere in the world! Don’t miss it by spoiling the natural resources.

“All, in this manifested world, consisting of moving and non-moving, Are governed by the Lord. Use its resources with restraint. Do not grab the property of others – distant and yet to come.”
Isavasya Upanishad

1.    Identify the appropriate soil quality and evaluate if the hole can be used for rainwater harvesting or any other appropriate solution.
2.    Design the shape the hole according to the natural contours, landscape and urban requirements.
3.    Avoid cutting trees and rather adapt the hole to the existing location of the trees.
4.    Design the quarry (area and depth) according to the future use of the hole.
5.    Remove the top soil which can be re-used for agricultural or landscaping purpose.
6.    Dig according to the design requirements: steps or slope, deep holes or shallow excavation, etc.
7.    Sieve the soil preferably in the quarry: the waste soil can be re-used on the spot to finalize the landscaping.
8.    Don’t let any waste to be dumped or accumulated into the hole.
9.    Protect the quarry with bunds from undesirable rainwater running off.
10.    Protect the hole from possible pollution.
11.    Finalize the hole according to the design (landscape, rainwater harvesting, wastewater treatment, etc.)



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