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Methods of Environmental Assessment

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Updated: Jul 20th, 2020

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Tool

– This method of environmental assessment was designed to help local councils as well as various organizations to create a preliminary assessment and environmental screening of a proposed project or activity in order to determine whether it has a negative, neutral or positive environmental impact (Schianetz et al., 2007).

Leopold Matrix

-Similar to the Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Tool, the Leopold matrix is similarly utilized to measure the impact of a project on the environment (Safont et al., 2012). What differentiates the Leopold Matrix from other methods of environmental assessment is the way in which it utilizes measures of importance (i.e. from a measure of 1 to 10) to magnitude (i.e. from -10 to +10) in order to determine the overall impact of a particular activity (Safont et al., 2012).

Fuzzy logic

– Often utilizing quantitative data as a means of assessment, Fuzzy logic can be considered a means of processing data so as to extend classical set theory to the extent that it can handle partial membership. In other words, fuzzy logic is used as a means of clarifying concepts related to “safety”, “health” and “acceptable” to the extent that it can be clearly understood based on quantitative analysis of data sets involving appropriate measures that deal with such abstract concepts (Ridgway, 2005).

It should be noted though that due to the complications involved in fuzzy logic applications and methods of utilization, it is rarely utilized in risk assessment or environmental policy due to the presence of better tools of assessment (Ridgway, 2005).

Flash Environmental Assessment Tool (FEAT)

While not utilized on a daily basis, the Flash Environmental Assessment Tool is one the best methods of assessing any existing or potential environmental impact risks that can be considered as a “significant” risk to locals and the environment through the release of unnatural or exotic chemical compounds into the surrounding environment (Saeed et al., 2012).

FEAT is normally seen in use when a tanker ship, a truck or other vehicle has accidentally let loose its shipment of chemicals. During such incidents, it is important to determine the level of danger involved so that proper cleanup procedures can be implemented (Saeed et al., 2012).

Differences in Methodologies

The Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Tool utilizes 14 potential environmental factors in a checklist format as a means of assessing the impact of a particular project or activity (Chang et al., 2013). Utilizing a color code scheme, it is able to determine whether an activity would be positive for the environment or not.

The Leopold Matrix on the other hand utilizes a set of columns which show the various activities of a project with each being measured on a scale of -10 to +10 as to whether or not they are good or bad for the environment (Chang et al., 2013). Fuzzy logic assessment differs from the previous examples in that it utilizes a theoretical framework in order to utilize imprecise and uncertain factors in a way that generates an output that is logical.

Examples of this can consist of determining how the amount of trees cut on a daily basis impacts the amount of carbon dioxide in the hair which can adversely affect people and the environment. FEAT on the other hand utilizes a large array of information on compounds and their impact on local environments in order to create its method of assessment.

Similarities Differences
Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Tool Both utilize a ranking system to create an environmental assessment Utilizes a 14 point check list to assess the environmental impact of projects
Leopold Matrix Examines individual activities on their potential environmental impact
Fuzzy logic Utilizes statistical data on imprecise factors to create a conclusion
Flash Environmental Assessment Tool (FEAT) Utilizes prior scientific information on chemicals to conduct an analysis

Reference List

Chang, T., Nielsen, E., Auberle, W., & Solop, F. I. (2013). A quantitative method to analyze the quality of EIA information in wind energy development and avian/bat assessments. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 38142-150

Ridgway, B. (2005). Environmental management system provides tools for delivering on environmental impact assessment commitments. Impact Assessment & Project Appraisal (Beech Tree Publishing), 23(4), 325-331.

Saeed, R., Sattar, A., Iqbal, Z., Imran, M., & Nadeem, R. (2012). Environmental impact assessment (EIA): an overlooked instrument for sustainable development in Pakistan. Environmental Monitoring & Assessment, 184(4), 1909-1919.

Safont, E. E., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T. T., & Rull, V. V. (2012). Use of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) tools to set priorities and optimize strategies in biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation, 149(1), 113-121.

Schianetz, K., Kavanagh, L., & Lockington, D. (2007). Concepts and Tools for Comprehensive Sustainability Assessments for Tourism Destinations: A Comparative Review. Journal Of Sustainable Tourism, 15(4), 369-389.

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