The planning profession is becoming increasingly diverse. Planning draws from a wide variety of disciplines and fields of study including geography, architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, ecology, history, sociology, business, politics and policy studies.
In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis placed on sustainable development which has stimulated the emergence of a new term – environmental planning. Environmental planning denotes a balanced approach to urban, regional and rural planning issues that takes into account social, cultural, political, economic and physical and ecological issues.
As a result of the diverse fields that are drawn upon in planning, it is looked upon as a “generalist” profession. The planner’s challenge is to bring together a broad range of technical and scientific information in a format that is easy to understand to communicate with the affected community and facilitate decision making.
Planners require good communication and people skills as well as the ability to work through complex multidisciplinary environmental problems. Local Government planners also need to function within the political structure of local government as well as balancing the needs of their community.