Types of Environment Assessments
When asked to conduct an assessment, an environmental consultant may have to examine more than just the environmental or physical impacts of a development. The consultant may need to look at the social, economic and demographic consequences of the proposal. Environmental assessments will also vary depending on which country you are in and the type of change or development that is proposed. Around the world, all the following terms refer to some sort of environmental assessment:
- Demographic Impact Assessment
- Development Impact Assessment
- Ecological Impact Assessment
- Economic and Fiscal Impact Assessment
- Environmental Audit
- Health Impact Assessment
- Strategic Impact Assessment
- Environmental Impact Assessment
- Environmental Impact Statement
- Environmental Risk Assessment
- Social Impact Assessment
- Climate Impact Assessment
Think about the types of assessments that you have researched in the past lessons. Which types of assessment apply in your area? Are they on this list? Note that even though there are many different types of assessment and differences in their name and focus depending upon the country you live in, for the purposes of this course, the term Environmental Impact Assessment is used interchangeably to represent the range of environmental assessment types that exist.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Environmental Impacts Assessments (EIA) are carried out as a major step in the early planning of projects that are likely to affect biological resources and habitats in the surrounding environment. The EIA shall ensure that the environmental effects of the project are taken into consideration in the planning and design phases. The EIA is often based in national legislation, international conventions and agreements. EIA requires a multi-disciplinary and holistic approach, involving identification of vulnerable resources and areas of conflict based on a thorough evaluation of the area affected and the expected discharges and technical implementations.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
The Environmental Impact Statement is usually the term used to describe the actual report that is compiled to report the findings of an EIA. Environmental consultants need to know suitable formats for presenting an EIS. A draft or preliminary EIS may precede an actual EIS. Public comment may be called for using a draft or preliminary document as a guide before the production of a final EIS.
Environmental Risk Assessment
The purpose of Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) is to provide decision makers with a tool that enables them to establish and maintain acceptable environmental safety levels for their operations. An ERA identifies how much each individual activity or component contributes to the total risk to the environment, so that risk reduction can be undertaken.
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