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Action plan

An integrated package of investment projects together with (1) supporting proposals for regulatory and legislative changes, subsidies, and incentives, (2) sources of financing, and (3) a short- or medium-term investment schedule. All components fit within a development strategy designed to bring about sustainable development in a region or country.

Cadastral survey

An inventory and registry of landed property used to assess taxes (fiscal cadaster) or record land rights and transactions (legal cadaster). In fiscal cadaster, property boundaries are mapped and a system of land evaluation is developed. In Latin America, land capability mapping is commonly used to evaluate land for fiscal cadasters.

Comprehensive regional development planning

The systematic identification, generation, and coordination of public actions in a region and its subregions. Each subregion's role is assigned in accordance with its resource problems and potentials and socio-economic conditions. The regional plan resembles a small-scale version of a national development plan: each proposed action is localized and its impact analyzed. Demands and restrictions imposed at the national level are taken into account, and the macroeconomic and sectoral approaches that characterize national planning are applied.

Counterpart agency

A national agency that works with a technical assistance agency in a development study or project. In DRD's usage, national agencies share dual management of the studies.

Critical path method

A technique for planning the most efficient way to achieve a given objective by determining the activities and events required and showing how they relate to each other in time.

Disclimax vegetation

A community of woody and herbaceous species, different from that which would be expected under prevailing climatic, edaphic, and topographic conditions. Disclimax vegetation develops after human intervention or natural catastrophic events.

Ecological reserve

A space delineated by planners or governments that is relatively undisturbed by human activity and whose use is generally restricted to scientific study of the form and function of its component ecosystems.


A unit of space defined by an interacting, interdependent complex of physical and biotic components and processes that have created characteristic energy flows and material cycling or movement.


The form and function of those natural and man-made ecosystems that surround and support life. The term normally refers to human life (as in "the human environment").

Environmental unit

An area distinguished from other areas by its physical and biotic characteristics.

Feasibility study

The final determination of the viability of a proposed investment project. Only the best alternative identified in a pre-feasibility study is developed in a feasibility study, which covers all economic, institutional, social, and engineering aspects of the project. The need for the project is analyzed along with resource availability, and refined estimates are made of (1) project benefits, (2) capital costs of construction, (3) annual costs of operation and maintenance, (4) economic parameters for evaluation, i.e. Net Present Value, Internal Rate of Return or other, and (5) repayment probabilities. (Compare "pre-feasibility study.")


The study of the formation of the distinctive characteristics of river channels by stream-flow erosion.

Integrated regional development planning

A three-part technique for bringing about beneficial social and economic change in a region: (1) diagnosis of principal problems and potentials; (2) preparation of a development strategy; and (3) formulation of a coordinated package of infrastructure, production, and service projects within an action plan for implementing the strategy.

Internal delta

A geomorphological formation created by extensive alluvial deposition upstream of the mouth of a river.

Internal rate of return

An indicator of the net benefits expected from a project over its lifetime, expressed as a percentage comparable to the opportunity cost of capital or the interest rate prevalent in the market.

Land-capability classification

A system for evaluating potential uses of land in association with particular management practices. One example, modifications of which have been used in some DRD studies, is the eight-level system of the U.S. Soil Conservation Service: Classes I-III, suitable for cultivation of annual crops with increasing limitations and management requirements; Class IV, suitable for pasture and perennial crops, and annual crops under special conditions; Class V, suitable for rice cultivation and pasture; Class VI, suitable for permanent crops and woodlands; Class VII, suitable for woodlands; and Class VIII, suitable for conservation.

Life-zone mapping

The use of temperature and precipitation data to delineate land areas that are distinguished by both their climatic characteristics and their associated natural vegetation,

Natural goods and services

Those naturally occurring components and processes of natural and man-made ecosystems of interest to individuals or groups of people.

Natural resource reconnaissance survey

The rapid collection and evaluation of data by soil scientists, geologists, hydrologists, and other specialists on an area's goods and services for the purpose of identifying development potential and delineating areas that merit more detailed study. Part of such a survey is the integrated mapping of natural resources to obtain a comprehensive view of a region's resource potential.

Package of projects

Complementary investment projects in infrastructure, production sectors, and services. The set of projects is designed to be implemented in a coordinated manner to achieve predetermined economic and social objectives. (Compare "program.")


The study of the natural causes of the geographic distribution of plants.


A unified group of decisions that expresses a country or region's economic and social development options, including the specific measures required to achieve selected objectives. The plan is composed of (1) a definition of objectives; (2) an ordering of human and material resources; (3) an explicit determination of the methods and forms of organization, and a timeframe; (4) the sectoral and spatial location of activities; and (5) other specifications necessary to orient the execution and control of the development process.

Pre-feasibility study

A preliminary assessment of the technical and economic viability of a proposed project. Alternative approaches to various elements of the project are compared, and the most suitable alternative for each element is recommended for further analysis. Costs of development and operations are estimated. Anticipated benefits are assessed so that some preliminary economic criteria for evaluation can be calculated. (Compare "profile" and "feasibility study.")

Production sector

An economic sector that produces a material good. Production sectors include mining, forestry, fishing, agriculture, industry, and energy, but exclude government activity and social services.


A coherent and interactive set of proposals and projects within one economic sector that are synchronized within a planning and implementation scheme. (Compare "package of projects.")


A planned and goal-oriented socio-economic development activity requiring financial investment or human participation over a given time. Examples include construction of physical infrastructure, the extension of credit or financing, the diffusion of new technology, the conservation or management of natural resources, and human resource development. As used by DRD, this term does not cover most research and planning activities.

Project idea

A tentative investment proposal based on the initial identification and evaluation of demand or resources. No benefit/cost analysis is conducted, but the proposal must address a problem or a need. (See "profile".)

Project profile

A preliminary project proposal in which costs and benefits are estimated. Profiling is the second stage of successively more detailed project analysis, a process that proceeds from project idea, to profile, to pre-feasibility, to feasibility and to final design.


An area that a country delimits for purposes of planning or development, A region may comprise parts of more than one country.

Regional accounts

A system for measuring and displaying the goods and services produced and consumed in a region, usually within a parallel system of national accounts.


The logical framework and set of coordinated decisions linking development goals with the actions required to achieve them. In DRD usage, the proposed strategy, having economic, social, environmental, and spatial components, specifies the major problems to be alleviated and the opportunities to be realized by short- to medium-term investments in specific projects.

Sustainable development

Within a country or region, gradual change characterized by economic growth, increased social equity, constructive modification of ecosystems, and maintenance of the natural resource base.

Topical mapping

The graphic depiction of the geographic distribution of such physical phenomena as soils, climate, transportation networks, and energy production and distribution, etc. In comprehensive natural resource inventories, DRD also prepares index maps of existing map coverage in such fields as soils, land use, and vegetation.

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