When contemplating the relationship between the natural and built environments, it is not a matter of good vs evil, but rather a matter of identifying which of every two options is less evil than the other. The very meaning of the words ‘built’ and ‘natural’ tell you straight up that they to do not belong together. For as long as man has been building and manipulating the planet for his own needs the natural environment has suffered, and only now are we beginning to see the positive effects such breakthroughs in construction can provide, and even then they are not of their own accord.
Sure you could argue that building tunnels through mountains is beneficial as it reduces the effect you have on the whole mountain range, but is that not still doing damage. Tunnel or road around the perimeter, the built environment is still harming the environment. Of course the built environment does have its benefits, after all a lot of endangered species are able to survive and reproduce due to man made game parks and zoos, but shouldn’t we consider the fact that those animals would not be endangered were it not for our buildings and highways pushing them out of their natural habitats. Are our buildings not responsible for forcing these animals into areas where they are prone to disease and other predators….
Humans need buildings to survive, we need roads for transportation but lets not start to think that we are doing the earth a favor when it comes to artificial fisheries and tree plantations. These constructions are simply a result of our guilt, and our poor attempt at correcting what we have already destroyed. The built environment exists entirely to benefit one species and one species only; Humans. Unfortunately we are not smart enough yet to see that fighting fire with fire does not save the forest. A tree plantation reduces carbon dioxide and ensures a natural environment within the area, but the trees planted may not belong there and the animals that will return to that area, whilst it will be better for them within the trees may not be able to survive given their knew artificial home.
In the end I guess we should realize that the built environment will eventually replace the natural environment, and that when that happens it will not be a case of whether or not the built environment benefits nature but whether or not it can effectively replace it and all that it entails.