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Environmental data banks with particular reference to terrain evaluation techniques for environmental inventory and environmental impact assessment

Lyons, K.J. (1979) Environmental data banks with particular reference to terrain evaluation techniques for environmental inventory and environmental impact assessment. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis is concerned with the provision of definitive information and a predictive capability for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Statement (EIS) process in areas where the basic data not exist do in the conventional form as overlays to topographic maps or as thematic maps. There is a need for a rapid, low cost, high information content, alternative approach. It is considered that a suitable alternative for a Level I EIA is the use of aerotriangulated 1:80 000 black and white photography, coupled with terrain evaluation.

This study reviews environmental literature to ascertain the type, quality and quantity of information required for the EIA/EIS process and the criteria that must be met. Spatial and temporal location statements are examined to ensure that data from many sources can be merged and integrated in an environmental data bank, and small area statistics compiled. Terrain evaluation methods are examined to ascertain their potential to yield the type, quality and quantity of information required to meet the required criteria for an EIA/EIS. A test area was selected to determine the information content of terrain units portrayed for the purpose of a Level I EIA.

It was concluded that it is possible, using the landscape method of terrain evaluation, to provide economic, rapid inventory data of sufficient accuracy for a Level I EIA from 1:80 000 photography in areas where there is no basic data and topographic mapping. This photography is the only remotely sensed imagery available over all Australia which is revised and which can produce adequate location statements. To be adequate, location statements should be geographically based and capable of conversion via 'header information to spatial and temporal common denominators of the environmental data bank. The most suitable common denominators for Australia are given.

Terrain evaluation is a suitable tool for the terrain portion of an EIA, with the parametric method being only suitable for a Level IV EIA, while the landscape method could be used for a Level I, II or III EIA. The terrain units portrayed on the photography for the purpose of a Level I EIA do provide a rapid means of inventory as there are significant associations of attributes with different locations of the same patterns. As these are different from any other patterns, it does lead to the identification of like environmental areas. This facilitates the identification of environmentally sensitive patterns and locations, and gives ability to allocate appropriate land use at the regional level which is the requirement of a Level I EIA.

Future research seems warranted into the effectiveness of the landscape method for Level II and III ElA's for particular classes of actions and impacts, and into the determination of the practical limits to the concept of analogous environmental areas.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): O'Connor, Des
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