The inclusion of biodiversity in environmental impact assessment: Policy-related progress limited by gaps and semantic confusion

The inclusion of biodiversity in environmental impact assessment: Policy-related progress limited... Natural habitat loss and fragmentation, as a result of development projects, are major causes of biodiversity erosion. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is the most commonly used site-specific planning tool that takes into account the effects of development projects on biodiversity by integrating potential impacts into the mitigation hierarchy of avoidance, reduction, and offset measures. However, the extent to which EIA fully address the identification of impacts and conservation stakes associated with biodiversity loss has been criticized in recent work. In this paper we examine the extent to which biodiversity criteria have been integrated into 42 EIA from 2006 to 2016 for small development projects in the Montpellier Metropolitan territory in southern France. This study system allowed us to question how EIA integrates biodiversity impacts on a scale relevant to land-use planning. We examine how biodiversity inclusion has changed over time in relation to new policy for EIA and how the mitigation hierarchy is implemented in practice and in comparison with national guidelines. We demonstrate that the inclusion of biodiversity features into EIA has increased significantly in relation to policy change. Several weaknesses nevertheless persist, including the continued absence of substitution solution assessment, a correct analysis of cumulative impacts, the evaluation of impacts on common species, the inclusion of an ecological network scale, and the lack of monitoring and evaluation measures. We also show that measures for mitigation hierarchy are primarily associated with the reduction of impacts rather than their avoidance, and avoidance and offset measures are often misleadingly proposed in EIA. There is in fact marked semantic confusion between avoidance, reduction and offset measures that may impair stakeholders' understanding. All in all, reconsideration of stakeholders routine practices associated with a more strategic approach towards impact anticipation and avoidance at a land-use planning scale is now necessary for the mitigation hierarchy to become a clear and practical hierarchy for “no net loss” objectives based on conservation priorities. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Environmental Management Elsevier

The inclusion of biodiversity in environmental impact assessment: Policy-related progress limited by gaps and semantic confusion

Loading next page...
 
/lp/elsevier/the-inclusion-of-biodiversity-in-environmental-impact-assessment-aD5ptx05GF
Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN
0301-4797
D.O.I.
10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.05.057
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Natural habitat loss and fragmentation, as a result of development projects, are major causes of biodiversity erosion. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is the most commonly used site-specific planning tool that takes into account the effects of development projects on biodiversity by integrating potential impacts into the mitigation hierarchy of avoidance, reduction, and offset measures. However, the extent to which EIA fully address the identification of impacts and conservation stakes associated with biodiversity loss has been criticized in recent work. In this paper we examine the extent to which biodiversity criteria have been integrated into 42 EIA from 2006 to 2016 for small development projects in the Montpellier Metropolitan territory in southern France. This study system allowed us to question how EIA integrates biodiversity impacts on a scale relevant to land-use planning. We examine how biodiversity inclusion has changed over time in relation to new policy for EIA and how the mitigation hierarchy is implemented in practice and in comparison with national guidelines. We demonstrate that the inclusion of biodiversity features into EIA has increased significantly in relation to policy change. Several weaknesses nevertheless persist, including the continued absence of substitution solution assessment, a correct analysis of cumulative impacts, the evaluation of impacts on common species, the inclusion of an ecological network scale, and the lack of monitoring and evaluation measures. We also show that measures for mitigation hierarchy are primarily associated with the reduction of impacts rather than their avoidance, and avoidance and offset measures are often misleadingly proposed in EIA. There is in fact marked semantic confusion between avoidance, reduction and offset measures that may impair stakeholders' understanding. All in all, reconsideration of stakeholders routine practices associated with a more strategic approach towards impact anticipation and avoidance at a land-use planning scale is now necessary for the mitigation hierarchy to become a clear and practical hierarchy for “no net loss” objectives based on conservation priorities.

Journal

Journal of Environmental ManagementElsevier

Published: Sep 15, 2017

References

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off