Why Are Environmental Assessments Necessary?
Sometimes an assessment is mandatory, required by law. This may not be the case in all countries, nor for all institutions, but it can be.
Undertaking an assessment prior to development or purchase of a property can be a wise decision, and an important indicator of whether the purchase or development should proceed.
Sometimes an assessment is undertaken to gather information which may be used as a basis for planning future development.
Other assessments are carried out for routine monitoring of the status of a particular area of land. It may be focussed on monitoring changes in the population of a particular plant or animal species; or perhaps to gauge any change in the geology (eg. water erosion, volcanic or earthquake activity, air pollutants, etc).
One method of determining what pollution is likely to be present on the land is to look at past photographs (especially aerial ones). This will tell you when the land was cleared and developed. The structures shown often give a good indication of what the block was previously used for. For example, a shed with hard-stand area outside with a scattering of cars on the hard-stand would indicated that the area was used for car maintenance and repairs and so the expected pollution might include hydrocarbons such as petrol (with or without lead depending on how long ago the area was used), grease and oil.
Here are some of the things you may do:
- Contact a laboratory (either by telephone, email, or in person) that carries out tests for environmental contaminants.
- Research the organisation in the local area that handles environmental complaints and the procedure for lodging such complaints.
- Identify developments that require an environmental assessment.
- Contact an Environmental Consulting Firm that carries out Environmental
- Assessments to determine the most common type of environment assessment in the local area.
- Contact the local government organisation to determine what sort of environmental assessments are required for the different classes of development.
- Research one treaty that influences environmental issues in the locality.
- Research the legislation in the student’s home country that governs the preparation of environmental assessments. Research the legislation in one other country that governs the preparation of environmental assessments. Compare the two.
- Identify factors that influence developer’s decisions on where to locate their developments.
- Read and review an Environmental Assessment Report
- Source the original data from an Environmental Assessment to determine how the data was analysed after collection.
- Write one “dummy” environmental assessment from beginning to end.
- Carry out a major research project in the form of an environmental assessment. This project will include data scoping, study design, data collection, data analysis, conclusions and a professionally presented finally report.
Different Types of Environmental Assessors
Environmental Assessors are often specialists. Some may specialise in sampling and testing soil or rocks, while others may be experts in assessing populations of flora or fauna.
Soil samples could then be taken where the oil stains were observed and an analysis requested for “oil and grease”, and “aromatic hydrocarbons”. It is important for scientists to be specific when requesting laboratory tests rather than just requesting a test of “samples for pollution”. Laboratories will ask which tests (of the approximately 45,000 tests available) are needed, and how many tests can they invoice for? Some laboratories will be registered to carry out tests x, y and z, but not a, b and c. Therefore, scientists may need to seek testing from more than one laboratory.
Noise levels may need to be assessed for or by some regulatory auth
orities (such as the Environment Agency in the UK, or the Environmental Protection Agency in Australia) to have as a condition of an environmental license that the company needs to contain the noise levels to “background noise level plus 5dB(A)” or something similar. So, the scientist will need to know what the background level is for each specified bracket of time during the day (e.g. 7am to 10pm; 10pm to 7am) for each specific day (e.g. Monday to Friday, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays). The investigation would also identify the closest affected receiving area. For example, a school would be seen to be a very sensitive receiving area whereas a factory would be seen to be a rather insensitive receiving area.
Air Quality often needs to be assessed prior to a development approval, or on an ongoing basis in urban or industrial areas. The air quality must be measured to provide baseline data on air quality as a gauge for comparison. Air quality is generally measured based on the presence of contaminants or pollutants which may be harmful to humans, animals or plants on or near the site. Air quality assessments are used to assess baseline levels of current emissions and meteorological conditions. They can then be used to predict the potential changes to air quality as a result of a potential development.
Fauna and Flora often needs monitoring and assessing prior to a developer making changes to a site. In such cases, they willneed to have an environmental consultant conduct a survey of the site to determine what flora (plants) and fauna (animals) are present. In particular, the consultant may look for ecologically significant features such as rare or endangered species, or habitat features such as hollow logs used by fauna. The consultant may advise of ways to reduce the impacts of a development on a site, and they may make suggestions for rehabilitation. For example, if a shopping centre is proposed for a certain site, the environmental consultant may recommend that only certain trees may be cut down, and that a certain number of trees be replanted in the area to replace these. The consultant may also recommend that wildlife be captured and moved to another location.
Study alone can never guarantee career success; but a good education is an important starting point.This course takes you one step beyond just the learning too; helping grow your awareness of opportunities and prompting your development of networking skills. We stand ready to advise you even after you finish your studies, as to what you should do next.
Success in a career depends upon many things. A course like this is an excellent starting point because it provides a foundation for continued learning, and the means of understanding and dealing with issues you encounter in the workplace.
When you have completed an ACS course, you will have not only learnt about the subject, but you will have been prompted to start networking with experts in the discipline and shown how to approach problems that confront you in this field.
This and every other industry in today’s world is developing in unforeseen ways; and while that is unsettling for anyone who wants to be guaranteed a particular job at the end of a particular course; for others, this rapidly changing career environment is offering new and exciting opportunities almost every month.
If you want to do the best that you can in this industry, you need to recognise that the opportunities that confront you at the end of a course, are probably different to anything that has even been thought of when you commence a course.
This course is ideal for:
- Environmental Science, Geology and Biology graduates looking to make their studies more useful.
- Anyone who can identify plants and/or animals who are looking to develop a business as a consultant
- Professional development for a wide range of other professions, including planners, developers, geologists, architects, engineers, environmental managers, and others.
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