Environmental impact assessment and planning
Environmental planning is the process of facilitating decision making to carry out development with due consideration given to the natural environmental, social, political, economic and governance factors and provides a holistic frame work to achieve sustainable outcomes.
Environmental planning concerns itself with the decision making processes where they are required for managing relationships that exist within and between natural systems and human systems. Environmental planning endeavors to manage these processes in an effective, orderly, transparent and equitable manner for the benefit of all constituents within such systems for the present and for the future. Present day environmental planning practices are the result of continuous refinement and expansion of the scope of such decision making processes. Some of the main elements of present day environmental planning are:
Social & economic development
Natural resource management & integrated land use
An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a formal process used to predict the environmental consequences (positive or negative) of a plan, policy, program, or project prior the implementation decision, it proposes measures to adjust impacts to acceptable levels or to investigate new technological solution. Although an assessment may lead to difficult economic decisions and political and social concerns, environmental impact assessments protect the environment by providing a sound basis for effective and sustainable development.
The purpose of the assessment is to ensure that decision makers consider the environmental impacts when deciding whether or not to proceed with a project. The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an environmental impact assessment as "the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made." EIAs are unique in that they do not require adherence to a predetermined environmental outcome, but rather they require decision makers to account for environmental values in their decisions and to justify those decisions in light of detailed environmental studies and public comments on the potential environmental impacts.
General and industry specific assessment methods are available including:
1. Industrial products - Product environmental life cycle analysis (LCA) is used for identifying and measuring the impact of industrial products on the environment. These EIAs consider activities related to extraction of raw materials, ancillary materials, equipment; production, use, disposal and ancillary equipment.
2. Genetically modified plants - Specific methods available to perform EIAs of genetically modified organisms include GMP-RAM and INOVA.
3. Fuzzy logic - EIA methods need measurement data to estimate values of impact indicators. However many of the environment impacts cannot be quantified, e.g. landscape quality, lifestyle quality and social acceptance. Instead information from similar EIAs, expert judgment and community sentiment are employed. Approximate reasoning methods known as fuzzy logic can be used.
Environmental Impact Assessment
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