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Exploring the EIA/environmental management relationship

Morrison-Saunders, A. and Bailey, J. (1999) Exploring the EIA/environmental management relationship. Environmental Management, 24 (3). pp. 281-295.

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An important measure of the effectiveness of environmental impact assessment (EIA) is the extent to which it achieves its goals for environmental protection and management. To determine this requires an examination of environmental outcomes for projects that have undergone EIA. The utility of the predecision stages of EIA in influencing environmental decisions has been well documented by others. It is argued here that EIA can also play a useful role in providing for ongoing adaptive environmental management. The hypothesis of this research is that EIA does influence environmental management activities and outcomes for development projects and that this influence occurs during three stages based on the principal approval decision point—predecision, postdecision, and transitional stages. This hypothesis was tested with respect to six case studies in Western Australia (WA). The majority of management actions were proposed during the predecision stage along with the formulation of impact predictions, although significant environmental management activities were established during the other stages of the EIA process. New management actions were implemented during the postdecision stage in response to the occurrence of unexpected impacts. Adaptive management activities were initiated during the transitional stage of EIA through the setting of environmental objectives in the predecision stage that left scope for a flexible approach to be adopted for achieving these objectives. During project assessment in WA, strong emphasis is placed on the need for ongoing monitoring and management programs. The implementation of these programs was found to be central to successful achievement of project and environmental performance objectives. The case studies demonstrate that a strong relationship exists between EIA and ongoing environmental management performance in WA.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Copyright: (c) Springer Verlag
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