Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, considering inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), according to UNEP, is a method used to determine the environmental, social, and economic effects of a project before making a decision. It seeks to anticipate environmental effects early in the project planning and design process, identify strategies for minimising negative effects, adapt projects to the local environment, and give forecasts and choices to decision-makers.
The use of environmental impact assessments as a planning tool is now widely acknowledged as being crucial to making wise decisions. By thoroughly assessing the environmental effects of the planned activity before taking any further action, the EIA aims to give the environment the respect it deserves in the decision-making process. Critical environmental impacts allows the public and the government to form a view about the environmental acceptability of a proposed developmental project and what conditions should apply to mitigate or reduce those risks and impact.
The EIA Process
Although laws and practises differ from country to country, the following steps are a must for the basic elements of an EIA:
- Screening to identify which projects or developments need a full or partial impact assessment study;
- Scoping to identify potential effects are pertinent to evaluate (based on statutory requirements, international conventions, expert knowledge, and public involvement), to identify alternative solutions that avoid, mitigate, or compensate adverse impacts on biodiversity (including the option of stopping the development, finding alternate designs or sites that avoid the impacts, incorporating safeguards into the project’s design, or providing compensatory
- Collection of baseline data: Baseline data is the environmental status of study area.
- Assessment and evaluation of impacts and development of alternatives, to predict and identify the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, including the detailed elaboration of alternatives;
- Publishing an environmental management plan (EMP), a non-technical summary for the general public, and an environmental impact statement (EIS) or environmental impact assessment report.
- Review of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), based on the terms of reference (scoping) and public (including authority) participation.
- Decision-making on whether to approve the project or not, and under what conditions; and sustainable development.
- Environmental audits, compliance, and monitoring Evaluate to see if the projected consequences and mitigating actions are carried out as specified in the EMP. Verify the proponent’s compliance with the EMP to ensure that unanticipated consequences or failed mitigation measures are detected and resolved in a timely manner.
Importance of EIA
EIA links environment with development for environmentally safe and sustainable development.
- EIA is a low-cost way to remove or reduce the negative effects of development initiatives.
- EIA enables the decision makers to analyse the effect of developmental activities on the environment well before the developmental project is implemented. EIA encourages the adaptation of mitigation strategies in the developmental plan.
- EIA ensures that the development plan is ecologically sound and within the boundaries of the ecosystem’s capacity for absorption and regeneration.
- It creates efforts to prevent or minimize damage to the environment and the biosphere, and stimulate the health and welfare of man.
- EIA aims to improve awareness of the ecological system and the value of natural resources to the nation, as well as to create the necessary institutional framework to carry out the objectives.