Ecology Science Fair Project
Managing the Impact of Infrastructure Projects on Endangered Species

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Project Information
Title: Managing the Impact of Infrastructure Projects on Endangered Species
Subject: Ecology
Subcategory: Endangered Species
Grade level: Middle School - Grades 7-9
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Low
Awards: Google Science Fair Finalist
Affiliation: Google Science Fair
Year: 2013
Materials and Techniques: Vortex computer simulation system
Concepts: Simulation system
Description: As the global population grows, it has become increasingly common for infrastructure projects (e.g. dams, solar farms) to adversely impact the habitat quality and overall viability of wildlife in general, and endangered species in particular. The goal of my project is to identify and validate a computer simulation based approach to assess and manage this impact. Using the Panoche Valley Solar Farm project in California and its impact on the endangered giant kangaroo rat population as a real-world case study example, I have been able to validate simulation modeling as a feasible and cost-effective approach to this class of problems.

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
Urban development
Regional development
Natural resource management & integrated land use
Infrastructure systems
Governance frameworks

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.

See also:
Environmental Impact Assessment
Environmental Planning

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)

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