Land Degradation Issues and Conservation Practices Report – Engineering Assignment Help

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Assignment – Covers Module 4 Ecology, land degradation and the conservation of resources

Aim of Assignment 2
To give you an opportunity to demonstrate that you can describe the inter-relationships between geology, geomorphology, water, soils, vegetation and fauna resources (Objective 2) To enable you to demonstrate an understanding of land degradation issues and conservation practices (Objective 4)

Background to assignment
In this assignment, we shall investigate either a single development project, or alternatively a strategic vision for an area. Either one of those can be deemed to have impact on matters of national environmental significance (as opposed to Assignment 1, where we looked only at projects that had a state impact). Hence, different sets of legislation come into play, with different processes. A significant impact is an impact which is important, notable, or of consequence, having regard to its context or intensity. Whether or not an action is likely to have a significant impact depends upon the sensitivity, value, and quality of the environment which is impacted, and upon the intensity, duration, magnitude and geographic extent of the impacts. You should consider all these factors when determining whether an action is likely to have a significant impact on the environment. Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999, environmental assessments are undertaken to enable environment and biodiversity conservation. There are nine matters of national environmental significance identified under the EPBC Act: 

  • world heritage properties
  • national heritage places
  • wetlands of international importance (listed under the Ramsar Convention)
  • listed threatened species and ecological communities
  • migratory species protected under international agreements
  • Commonwealth marine areas
  • the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
  • nuclear actions (including uranium mines)
  • a water resource, in relation to coal seam gas development and large coal mining development

These types of projects require separate approval by the Australian Government. Your main resource for this assignment will hence be the website of the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE). In addition, you will have to research beyond this website to supplement your knowledge on the topics of ecology, land degradation and conservation of resources. 

Notes on writing a report
To successfully complete this assignment, you will have to compile and write a professional report to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the topics. To do this successfully, you will need to demonstrate the following skills: The ability to

  • research a topic in a systematic manner
  • reach a conclusion based upon the careful weighing of the available evidence
  • organise material in a logical and concise manner to support an argument
  • document evidence and sources of information.

Your final report should demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the issue and that you are able to communicate the research outcomes in a professional manner. The following notes on report writing should assist you in achieving this outcome.

The process
Good report preparation requires a process of careful reading of the sources, continual reflection upon the information, and constant referral to the question. The terms of the question should be clearly understood from the outset and kept constantly in mind so that all reading and note-taking is directed along useful lines of inquiry and towards the gathering of relevant information. Your reading should move from the general text or source document to more specific articles. You should read, take notes, and make summaries of each writer’s key arguments, as well as making notes of any ideas and criticisms that occur to you. Take careful note of any phrases you wish to quote and note all sources in full. Your reflection should firstly involve teasing out the critical questions to be addressed, and secondly, the testing and refining of findings as the research proceeds. Be critical in your reading and listening and try to be aware of the value stance of the people involved. Some questions you should consider are:

  • What are they saying, why are they saying that, and with what objectives in mind?
  • Does a suggested solution appear to solve the issue or leave important parts unsolved?
  • What do you think of the arguments and any proposed solutions?
  • Who benefits and who is disadvantaged?

Once you believe you have covered the topic from all perspectives, you should develop a solution, develop arguments that support your case, and then collect any relevant supporting material. This process includes the exclusion of irrelevant arguments and material. Undirected and unthinking research will result in an intractable pile of notes, largely irrelevant and probably deficient at critical points. Both the structure and style are important when writing a report. The structure is important because it should be used to guide the reader through the report. Style is important because it affects the reader’s experience, and may impact on their acceptance of your arguments and conclusion. You must develop a style which produces an orderly examination of the question and  the way the key elements are presented. 

For example, the simple addition of a header and footer and highlighted sub-headings will make all the difference to the layout of your assignment. A good report should be planned or structured in a logical and coherent manner. It should unfold in a pleasant and interesting manner: the reader’s attention should be held, ideas and arguments should be well marshalled to substantiate points, repetition should be avoided, and each paragraph should flow smoothly into the next, carrying the reader a step nearer to the desired conclusion. Plan your report so it is not merely a compilation of facts or a statement in your words of the opinions of others. 

The best reports do not just arrange facts and arguments, they involve critical judgement too. To be critical is not just to disagree with an author or a question. It is an attempt to reveal weakness in an argument or show where the author fails to take significant factors into account, or where conclusions do not logically flow from stated premises. You do not have to have better arguments or criticisms than that found in books consulted. Your main individual contribution comes from how you order and arrange your material, how you comment on it, and how you show it relates to the questions under discussion. The introduction and conclusion sections can often make or break a report. The use of other headings and sub-headings can be important, although this depends on the context. For example, in this course you should be guided by the marking criteria set out for each assignment.

The structure
The introduction should include a clear statement of the scope of your intended discussion and establish the limits of your report. The introductory paragraph(s) should be used to establish the context of the topic, to ask questions, raise issues and make assertions which will be taken up at length in the body of the essay. 

Analysis is the next step and involves the orderly presentation of the chosen material so that it shows how it bears on the questions you have identified. You may disagree with other people, including experts, but be careful as readers will discount your work if your opinions are demonstrably false or superficial, and not supported. Support your arguments with theories and facts. Your study book, and the other references, are designed to give you a good grounding in town planning theory and practice, so if you make an observation about your issue you should refer back to these documents to support what you are saying. The following is an example of a supported observation:

The neighbourhood unit began to develop during the early 19th century due to its proximity to reliable water and the main stock route. A local historian, John Smith observed that the town grew in a disorderly fashion as residential allotments were created from larger land holdings in response to the strong market demand for land. This type of development is characteristic of the laissezfaire development patterns exhibited during the Industrial Revolution. (USQ, 2006, 1.11)

If you use this technique it demonstrates that you have read the study notes and can make the link between what you’ve read and a real-world example.
Plans, photos and other materials should be used to illustrate the issues you are discussing and to support your arguments. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes when determining what should be included, and all such materials should be referred to in the text. You should also ensure that the
source of these documents is cited. For example, if you make a point about a certain street, building, relationship in the urban environment, go out and take a photo of it and include it in  your report. Remember that you should only include plans and photos if they support your case, they have little value if they are at the wrong scale or unrecognisable.

Finally, you should avoid presenting factual material for its own sake and presenting generalisations which are not supported by appropriate evidence. Factual material is, of course, important but it is relevant only when used to support intelligent discussion on the report topic. The conclusion should draw together all the points, arguments and aspects treated in the report into a concise answer to the questions. You should begin by restating the thesis you originally gave in the introduction but this time it should be based on the analysis and arguments you have presented in the body of the report.

The written report is a form of communication devoid of the gestures and accents of normal conversation. Its style, therefore, should be clear, simple, brisk and to the point. Clichés, colloquialisms, ill-defined jargon, over-long words and sentences, and contrived witticisms are detrimental to clarity and should be avoided. Similarly, factual recitation is deadening. As a report is also of a stipulated length, e.g. 3000 words give or take 10 percent, there is an additional demand for precision and word-economy. Failure to meet the required length probably means that insufficient thought has been given to the topic whilst a serious exceeding of the word limit
probably means that much unnecessary padding has been included.

A report should be written at least twice – rough draft and the final submission – but sections of it, such as difficult or critical paragraphs, should be constantly reworked and polished until the meaning is clear and precise. The final text should be thoroughly read and checked for punctuation, grammar, and unintended omission before submission. For these reasons, a good report cannot be attempted at the last moment – in the week before the due date. The report should be commenced as soon as the topic is announced: thinking, arguing, reading, reflecting, and writing about the topic over a period of weeks will be repaid in time, energy, structure, relevance and judgement. It is through this regimen of research and writing that the student’s personal view and style will be perfected.

Formal language should always be used when writing an academic, professional report, or journal article:

  • Always write in the third person, i.e. never use ‘I’, ‘my’ or ‘we’.
  • It is not acceptable to use casual language such as ‘they made a go of it’, ‘the neighbourhood is a pretty neat place’ or ‘heaps of people’.
  • Avoid using clichés, colloquialisms, ill-defined jargon and contrived witticisms.
  • Use full versions of words. For example, you should not use shorthand versions of words such as: approx.; min.; or don’t.
  • If you want to use an acronym, then you should define it by placing it in brackets after the first time the full text version is used in the essay. For example, the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE) is holding its conference in Melbourne.
  • You should carefully check your report to ensure that individual sentences and paragraphs are correctly structured, and that you have correctly spelled all the words. Some things to look out for are:
  • Each paragraph should contain only one idea or thought.
  • Check that each sentence is correctly punctuated and has meaning.
  • Capitals should only be used for names (including zone or precinct names in planning schemes). East, west etc. or the tavern should be not capitalised unless used as part of a name e.g. the Bridge Street Tavern or East York.
  • Be careful about using apostrophes, for example using 1960’s instead of 1960s. If you write ‘the 1960’s architecture was interesting’, then the 1960s owns the architecture and so the apostrophe is used. But if you write ‘during the 1960s a new form of architecture was seen’, there is no ownership of the architecture and so just the plural form is used.

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