How are humans constantly impacting the landscape?

Author: Sarah Tavares

Translator: Sarah Tavares

The relationship between the natural landscape and human factors are constantly changing. art of human nature to create new means of developing harmoniously. The cultural landscape is also a representation of social and economic issues of a community: humans are affected by historical periods, so the needs and problems of a generation are expressed directly through the landscape. After all, it is impossible to hide these issues from the environment in which they happen.

Human perceptions and actions from such interaction influence the changes undergone by the landscape within its synthesis process, and it will never go back.. With the comprehension of the surroundings, it is possible to understand how humans alter the natural systems through their creations, and how the environment directly influences their way of life (Bickhard, 1980).

Urbanization and the Industrial Revolution contributed to the formation of cities.  The ascension of various instrumental techniques actively interact with the landscape. According to S. Gideon, “The routes of history are the products of geography.”  It’s possible to perceive how economic, social, and cultural factors impact the landscape. So, when modifying the environment, humans become an essential part of the landscape due to the impact they cause on their surroundings (Santos, 2006).

New York 1920

New York, 2020

Human activities modify the landscape routinely, leaving features for a temporary or permanent time. This impact is a cumulative process. Humankind has been interacting with their surroundings since the beginning of times—with the intention to survive. 

Amid the damage caused by the health and economic crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the construction of mega-structures in the urban area, such as Skyscrapers, dropped by 20% (CTBUH, 2021). While some cities reported an increase in deforestation, wildlife presence in urban areas and waste generation due to the lockdown. 

Keeping Track of Human impact

Biophony represents the sounds given by an organism, such as birds or insects, Anthrophony represents human-generated sounds, such as voices or music, and Geophony represents the set of natural sounds emitted by non-biological sources, such as rain or wind. 

Bioculture reinforces the idea that people are part of nature by monitoring human and ecological wellbeing. According to the American musician and ecologist Bernie Krause, it is possible to notice human environmental impact through sound, and soundscapes analyze natural and artificial noises surrounding a landscape. 

The lack of biophony in cities, for example, means the absence of density and diversity due to the migration of species once anthrophony became louder. 

During the pandemic, researchers used sound to identify landscape changes in Boston, concluding that once human activities decreased because of lockdown, “It was almost like the countryside melody came into the city,” said Carlo Ratti, the director of the Senseable City Lab at M.I.T.

It’simpossible to hide social, economic, and political issues from the landscape, as they always show themselves through the places we live. Mankind constantly modifies the environment according to their needs and preferences. It’s possible to shape the landscape according to a society’s beliefs, values, necessities, and pre-established aesthetic notions. 

Thereupon, landscapes are not only a cultural heritage, but a product of our daily exertion. Humanity’s actions are forever imprinted in the place life develops, and for this reason, it is vital to expand knowledge regarding our surroundings and initiate positive activities that will lead toward a harmonious connection between nature and man.


Badger and Bui. “The Coronavirus Quieted City Noise. Listen to What’s Left.” The New York Times, May 22, 2020. (Last accessed on July 20, 2022)

Barry, A., and G. Born, editors. 2013. Interdisciplinarity: reconfigurations of the social and natural sciences. Routledge, Oxford, UK.

Bickhard, M. H. (1978). The Nature of Developmental Stages. Human Development, 21, 217- 233.

Krause, Bernie. The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places, 2nd edn, New York, Little Brown & Company, 2012.

Le Corbusier, Manière de penser l’urbanisme, 2nd edn, Paris, Gonthier, 1963.

Santos, Milton. A Urbanização Brasileira, Hucitec, São Paulo, 1993, (4ª edição: 1998).