In geography and ecology, anthropization is the conversion of open spaces, landscapes, and natural environments by human action.

Anthropic erosion is the process of human action degrading terrain and soil.

An area may be classified as anthropized even though it looks natural, such as grasslands that have been deforested by humans. It can be difficult to determine how much a site has been anthropized in the case of urbanization because one must be able to estimate the state of the landscape before significant human action.

Anthropization, as associated with the presence of man, already appeared in the Pleistocene (for example through hunting and agriculture practices). However, this phenomenon has a much wider scope in the modern world than in the past, due to the use of technologies that try to adapt the environment to human needs, often with undesirable effects. For example, the reckless use of plants for the production of energy or the extraction of materials determines the emission into the atmosphere, soil and oceans of substances harmful to human health.and other living organisms, with a consequent disruption of the ecosystem balance, even to the onset also of climate changes at local and global level (including the increase of the greenhouse effect due to the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas).

The great civilizations
Anthropization begins with the appearance of man on Earth. Presumably the australopithecus fed on herbs, roots and remains of animals. With evolution, man began to build tools, to work the stones and to use fire. The introduction of agriculture determined the beginning of changes to the environment, or more marked anthropization processes. A nomadic hunter he became a sedentary farmer. So he began to build the first huts, to plow the land, to sow and plant fruit trees. The first great civilizations however, despite some impressive works, such as the pyramids or the control of the Nile coursein Egypt, the terraced capital with largehanging gardens in Babylon and the beautiful city-states in Greece did not cause major environmental changes.

The Roman Empire
With Rome the phenomenon of urbanism was born for the first time in Europe. The city reached the million inhabitants at the time of the empire. The patricians lived in single-storey villas, which fit gently into nature, had wide open spaces and numerous rooms. For plebeians, on the other hand, buildings were erected on different levels, which also reached 20 meters in height, divided into small apartments. These neighborhoods were real hives, with poor hygienic conditions that favored the proliferation of infections and diseases. The Roman model greatly influenced the environment, in fact agriculture was intensified, communications were made with the construction of roads, bridges and aqueducts, laying the foundations of what will be the management and modification of the environment in a modern sense. An example of a balanced environmental integration of the era were the villas of the Roman nobles who exploited the characteristics of the places.

The Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages the depopulation and dispersion of the population on the territory reduced the urban phenomenon. Rome drastically reduced the number of its inhabitants. Human works tried to exploit the territory especially for defensive purposes; hence the Castle, the Pieve, the Convent and the Borgo. Agriculture around them, in a new equilibrium. An example of this habitat we can still see it in the vicinity of Siena to the Abbey of S. Galgano and its unaltered surroundings.

Humanism brought a revival of urban development, following the classic values of the philosophy of the Renaissance, who designed the city and ideal environments for their harmony can not adversely affect the environment set-up. An integrated and organic agricultural activity was consolidated in the territory. This derived from the rebirth of the villa, which, as an archetype, had the Roman villa. The architectural and rural environment that together created these villas, was of great harmony. Only in recent centuries has the demographic increase created a greater impact on the natural environment.

Industrial revolution
The industrial revolution, which took place between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, led to the transition from an agricultural-craft economy to an industrial economy. This passage gradually became established in successive times and in different ways, also on the European continent, starting the transformation of the social organization, of the political systems, of the cultural models and of the same individual behaviors that still characterizes the developed areas of the contemporary world. a profound conditioning even on the backward ones.

Industrialization took hold especially in England. The fuel used in blast furnaces was charcoal, a resource that was running out. The attempts that had been made to replace the coke charcoal produced by the distillation of fossil coal, had clashed with difficulties related to the qualities of the coal ore, characterized by a slow and incomplete combustion. It is not difficult to imagine how serious were the repercussions of industrialization on the environment of the territories involved.

The earliest known stages of anthropization can be found as early as the Neolithic era and the basic farmland created in that time.. With the continually-growing population of humans, the land that the Earth provides has been appropriated over the years. The ecological footprint created by anthropization is continually growing despite efficiency and technique improvements made in anthropization..

Whether anthropized or not, all land seldom a few locations has been claimed. Outside of the largely inhospitable Arctic and Antarctic circles and large portions of other uninhabitable landscapes, much of the globe has been used or altered in some direct way by humans. Land has been appropriated for many different reasons, but ultimately the outcome is typically a short-term benefit for humans. An area is anthropized is some way to make land available for housing, to harvest the resources, to create space for some anthropological reason, or many other possibilities.

Processes and effects

The root of many early forms of civilization, agriculture has been a primary reason for anthropization. To cultivate food or breed animals, humans must alter land—till soil or build structures—to facilitate agriculture. This can lead to soil erosion and pollution (pesticides, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.), and subsequently habitat fragmentation and overall an increased ecological footprint. Agriculture and industry often overlap, and industry produces many of these effects too.

Urban development
Especially with approximately 7.5 Billion humans inhabiting the Earth, this typically aligns with an increase in residences worldwide. Over the years, humans have built on land to meet their needs and wants. These actions range from small villages to massive factories, water parks, and apartments. Urbanization and development of human residences can significantly affect the environment. Not only does the physical space of buildings fragment habitats and possibly endanger species, but it fundamentally alters the habitat for any other living being. For some species, this effect can be inconsequential, but for many this can have a dramatic impact. The biosphere is very much interconnected, and this means that if one organism is affected, then as a result the other organisms within this ecosystem and food chain are also affected.

As well, within the last century, any urbanized area requires roads for transportation. This transportation is a continued source of pollution, and the roads can be a source of soil erosion.

Industry and technology
To support humans, industrial buildings and processes are apparently essential. Urban development and agriculture require that people produce, refined, or construct many things. Key to this is that factories require that people gather the materials they need to create a product. The wide range of products in this anthropological age use a plethora of substances that must be harvested or produced. Many of these materials are non-renewable (e.g., fossil fuel, metal ores, etc.) and the harvest of these results in relatively permanent anthropization. For resources that depend on in high quantity, this can also mean temporary depletion or damage to the source of the resource (e.g., depletion or pollution of fresh water reserves, improper or inefficient silviculture, etc.). Even sustainable or renewable industrial anthropization still affects the environment. While the resource in question may not be in jeopardy, the harvest and processing can still change and damage the environment.

Anthropization can also be a result of scientific endeavours. This can manifest as construction of structures to aid in scientific discovery and observation. This can range from structures such as observatories, or on the opposite scale the Large Hadron Collider. These and many other things are built and used to enhance knowledge of sciences. They do however require space and energy.

To power the ever-growing human race, energy is needed. Power-harvesting structures are built to harness energy, such as dams, windmills, and nuclear reactors. These sources of energy ultimately fuel the rest of anthropological activity and are essential in this way. However many of these methods have consequences. With dams, construction aside, they can cause flooding, habitat fragmentation, and other effects. With nuclear reactors, they have a lasting effect in that typically a lifespan of one of these is around 50 years and afterwards the nuclear waste must be dealt with, and the structure itself must be shut down and cannot be used further. To safely dispose of this even low-level waste can take hundreds of years, ranging upwards with increased radioactivity. To produce and as a result of this production of energy, it requires a lot of anthropized land.

Anthropisation soils and landscapes
The anthropogenic erosion of a relief, soil or a natural model is the whole of the processes of degradation of the relief and the grounds due to the human action. We distinguish the Greek root anthropos (“man”).
To say that climate change is anthropogenic, means that human activities are, for all or part important, the cause of climate change.

Spaces can be described as anthropized although they look natural, like meadows and pastures transformation by man of the biome of prairies temperate savannas and shrublands, forests or deforestation. The detection of the marks of anthropization can be difficult because it implies to know or estimate the state of a medium or landscape before any sensible action of the man, and because it can be very old (of the order of the century or tens of millennia sometimes).

The breeding, the écobuage and agriculture were among the first levers by which the human species has substantially converted a medium. This dates from the Neolithic, with the first clearings 2. Hunting, by removing large predators or some large herbivores has also had consequences écopaysagères. The drainage, the endiguage the pipeline because they alter the water cycle, its volume, infiltration or quality, were also powerful factors of artificial landscapes and ecosystems3.

The phenomena of disturbance and overfrequentation / overexploitation, respectively by the direct and indirect consequences they have on fauna and flora and soils, are also a source of anthropization of environments and ecosystems. The same is true for introductions of invasive or invasive alien species.

Soil anthropization activities include:

Agricultural activities
Construction of housing, hospitals, and other infrastructure to provide public utilities
Construction of transport networks on the ground, including roads and railways
Construction of industrial plants for mineral extraction, production of materials and waste treatment.

The negative effects of agriculture include:

Transformation of forests into cultivated fields (deforestation).
Use of ground and surface water.
Salinization of underground aquifers.
Contamination of soil and water with chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides.

The built environment
By “built environment” we mean the set of human realizations that transform the natural environment, remodeling it according to human needs (anthroposphere).

These transformations include not only real constructions (architecture, living environment, etc.), but also agricultural, forestry work, etc. Built-up areas are urban and non-urban built-up areas and infrastructures, rural areas as well as areas in the natural state crossed by connecting equipment such as motorways or railways. The built environment is therefore the fusion of the natural element with human intervention. The degree of integration of human work with the natural environment is the subject of debate in various locations, and urban planning and territorial planning they are the technical tools for carrying out the interventions.

Land-based construction activities have many negative effects on the environment, including:

Alteration and destruction of the habitat for the excavation of land.
Deviation of underground waterways.
Wetland drainage.
Waste production.

Resource analysis is a priority. In this regard, it is interesting the famous waterfall house (Fallingwater) of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the masters of the Modern Movement and creator of the concept of organic architecture. Despite its disruption, the house integrates “organically” with its surroundings: the forest and the waterfall. It is that “new system in harmony” that magically Wright manages to build and to which every design of the built environment must tend. A new environmental awareness, combined with the need to protect the natural environment, led to the CasaClima project, which came into force in 2005 inProvince of Bolzano.

An important role in this area is played by the DiTAC, Department of Technology for the Built Environment, which is based at the Faculty of Architecture of the “G. D’Annunzio” University of Chieti-Pescara. This department has objectives of scientific research and training in the field of construction regarding the improvement and control of the quality of the built environment. DiTAC aims to find and develop new approaches to tackle problems in the relationship between technology, innovation and built environment.

The negative effects of industrial activity on the environment include:

Emissions of gas and dust into the atmosphere.
Treatment of industrial waste.
Water pollution.

In particular, in the case of mining industries:

Deviation of underground courses due to the construction of the wells.
Removal of the superficial soil.
Surface deposits of mining mining slag.
Release of dust and fumes from the refining processes into the atmosphere.

The anthropization activities linked to transport have the following negative effects:

Deviation of surface water courses for road construction
Air pollution of vehicles
Noise pollution

Water anthropization
Water can reach the sea not only through rivers but also from the ground, after infiltrating and reaching a water table. Therefore, it is easy to understand that water can be polluted not only by rivers but also by polluting soil products. An important cause of water pollution and in particular of fresh water are discharges of organic material. In order of priority, the main sources are:

Waste civil and domestic sewage: these are represented by residues deriving from everyday domestic activities: washing, cooking, etc. Watercourses are often reduced to open sewers, since sludges and discharges of all kinds are poured into them.
Breeding: for animal farms the polluting contribution is given by the liquids containing nitrates
Industry: the industry uses a lot of water to: produce goods, wash finished products and equipment, cool the machinery; the water is then rejected very often in surface water without adequate treatment.
Agriculture: the modern agricultural practices that use pesticides and chemical fertilizers in excessive doses cause excessive contributions of pollutants that, with the leaching, pass into the aquifers and rivers.

In the waters there are microorganisms able to feed on organic compounds, coming from dead organisms, sewage, and transform them into non-polluting minerals. The substances that are able to undergo this process are called biodegradable. But, nowadays, the increase in pollution has meant that the biological substances are present in far greater quantities than the natural self-purification capacity of the water. Furthermore, it must also be borne in mind that non-biodegradable substances are also poured over, on which self-purification has no effect, leaving polluted freshwater.

The presence of phosphates in the waters of the seas and lakes increases the algae that, once dead, produce the death by asphyxiation of other organisms because, the decomposing bacteria consume all the oxygen present in the water. The intrinsic toxicity of plant protection products can be detrimental to aquifers and the quality of drinking water and food itself. This problem finds a solution through organic farming, which however has the flaw of having scarce crops and high prices. Lately the situation seems to have improved for the diffusion of purification plants in industrial areas, for the use of biodegradable detergents and for the control of agro-zootechnical waste.

Industrial toxic waste
The technological process of industries also requires large quantities of water, which once used is channeled to rivers and seas, but this water is so polluted as to threaten the living organisms that come into contact with it. The main toxic waste of the chemical industries can be:

Heavy metals (mercury, often used as fungicide, lead, used in batteries, projectiles, paints and gasoline, cadmium, used in metal coatings, sometimes as a dye and in some types of batteries);
Metal oxides and by-products of the pharmaceutical industry;
Toxic hydrocarbons (used to produce insecticides such as DDT or in plastics and varnishes);
Chromium (used for the “chromium plating” of metals, in leather processing and in the cooling waters of industries);
All these substances accumulate gradually in the water cycle with dangerous consequences. Suffice it to say that in Japan many people were poisoned by fish that were their basic nutrition. The fish had been poisoned by the tons of mercury poured into the sea. Consequence of this was the birth of children with serious problems in the central nervous system.

Oil pollution
Most of the world’s seas are polluted with oil. The Mediterranean is the sea with the highest level of oil pollution because, being a closed sea, the waters renew slowly. Oil can become a danger to the environment during the phases of the production cycle: extraction, transport, processing. While the oil spill is a rare event and the most serious episode dates back to 1990, in Europe, when some North Sea wells poured oil into the sea for two days, on the other side the payment in the sea from part of the oil tanker is a more common event.

Currently some oil tankers are washed with sea water, pouring millions of tons of naphtha. But another cause of this is due to the discharges that we find in ports, at loading and unloading points and in ship dismantling sites. Very often the hydrocarbons are poured into the sea from the refineries placed near the coasts, because of small but irrepressible losses that become huge if they go on in time.

Not infrequently, oil escapes from oil tankers as a result of accidents. When this happens, much damage is done to the environment and marine life. The oil that floats on the water creates a layer, called “black oil” that isolates water from the air, preventing the exchange of oxygen and the penetration of sunlight. The lack of oxygen is the cause of the death of many marine organisms. Over time, the lighter substances evaporate or are destroyed by microorganisms or chemical reactions, but the heavier ones remain in the form of lumps that sink and are attacked by bacteria or chemical reactions. Before disappearing they destroy the organisms that live on the seabed.

Anthropization of the atmosphere
The atmosphere represents the set of gases that surrounds the Earth. Excluding the water vapor, which is present in a very variable quantity, the remaining fraction of the atmosphere at ground level is composed of nitrogen (N 2) 78.0%, oxygen (O 2) 20.9%, argon(Ar) 0.9% and other 0.1% gases. The anthropization of the atmosphere is due to all the harmful gases that are released in it, and that have led to many changes. Toxic substances continue to be released into the atmosphere by industries all over the world. The combustion processes, which take place in the industries, in the heating systems and in the transport, immense large amounts of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide into the atmosphere, significantly altering its chemical-physical structure. The result is therefore three processes of alteration of the very serious environmental balances:

Greenhouse effect
The so-called “greenhouse effect” is produced by the action of many gases, introduced, in increasing quantities, into the atmosphere: methane, nitric oxide, carbon dioxide. The latter has a necessary function because it allows the Earth to keep a part of the heat that comes from the Sun, but in recent times, its quantity in the air has increased significantly due to the progressive deforestation suffered by some large areas of the planet and of the combustion of coal, oil, methane, and other gases generated by agricultural and industrial production systems. The “greenhouse effect”, in fact, provokes the “desertification” of vast territories of the equatorial and tropical regions, as well as, in the case of overheating, it should increase,

Hole in the ozone
Ozone hole means the reduction of the ozone layer located in the stratosphere (the highest level of the atmosphere). Ozone is a blue gas characterized by a pungent odor. Its molecule is made up of three atoms instead of two (as in oxygen). It has the task of protecting the earth from ultraviolet rays irradiated by the sun, tremendously harmful both to human health and to the balance of ecosystems. It would therefore be of primary importance to keep this protective layer intact, without allowing holes or stretch marks to form.

Acid rain
In recent decades it has been found that the earth, rivers and lakes have had an increase in the degree of acidity, and all this is due among other things to the petrochemical industries which use rather harmful fuels which in contact with water vapor of air are transformed into acidic precipitations, so it follows that the living conditions of the fauna and of the flora, both aquatic and terrestrial, worsen more and more. But these acid rains do not only damage the flora and fauna but also the precious monuments and the splendid works of art which are corroded with consequent serious damage. So when the air and the water are polluted the ecological balance is altered profoundly as the decrease of the

The modification of the environment and its safeguard
Environmental changes such as logging in order to obtain building or cultivable areas, agriculture itself, and the excavation of land for the construction of roads and any other human settlement cause increasingly evident and ever less acceptable damage. Such changes often bring consequences such as pollution, degradation, depletion of resources and, for the population, critical living conditions. Reversing the trend appears to be difficult, but in all developed countries, public opinion increasingly calls attention to the problem to the various governments.

The environmental defense (or its recovery), therefore, has become a widespread necessity. In this regard, we are trying to modify Article 9 of the Constitution, with the aim of strengthening its effectiveness, inserting the word ‘ environment ‘ in the text alongside the nation’s ‘ landscape ‘ and ‘historical and artistic heritage’. The constitutional right to the environment should be understood as a personal and collective right to conservation, responsible management and improvement of the components and the complex of natural conditions: air, water, soil, territory. Safeguarding the environment is a fundamental value, in the interest of future generations.

An artificial environment can also be considered an example of a natural environment reconstructed artificially by man at will, such as the home aquarium or a hunting reserve or a public park.

Assessment of anthropization
It is usually done via observatories landscape and biodiversity observatories, on the basis of naturalist inventories and studies based on the model of ” State-Pressure-Response ” compared to an environmental condition-zero and eco-landscape to the extent possible.

Too much anthropization can lead to evolutionary traps.

Source from Wikipedia