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ENVS3610 Environmental Impact Assessment

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ENVS3610 Environmental Impact Assessment

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ENVS3610 Environmental Impact Assessment

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Course Code: ENVS3610
University: The University Of Newcastle

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Country: Australia

Question:

Historically, baseline studies have involved comprehensive inventories of any and all aspects of the environment. Can you appreciate in what senses they are in fact limited, biased, and not comprehensive?
If you had to fight for a financial boundary extension for either a baseline study or a post-project study, which would you choose and why?
Ask someone from a regulatory agency, a consulting firm or perhaps a university researcher if there are any ongoing, baseline studies being done in your area. What’s happening, who’s doing it and why? In addition, make sure you to identify your contact, position and the organization they are working for.

Answer:

1: Baseline studies have been interpreted as the introductory phase of a monitoring program, which is significant for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). It is found that baseline studies play a critical role in identifying the potential reason for any changes, which can be determined after developing any project in a site. According to Koivurova (2017), it is essential for an individual to possess significant knowledge regarding the major components of Valued Ecosystem Components (VEC) for completing baseline studies critically. Despite, such comprehensiveness of baseline studies, the following factors have proved the incomprehensiveness of the same:
Limitation of baselines studies: Data gathering for the EIA has been identified as a significant limitation of baseline studies. It is observed that determining the interaction pathways to baseline study is crucial as without proper research on the population level and the effects of an individual cannot be assessed. Besides this, selection of project sites is another major limitation of baseline studies. It is found that consultants might face issues in gathering detailed knowledge regarding the purpose of that site. It is identified that a lack of legal protection often creates problems for developing extensive baseline studies, as, without proper knowledge of the location, species of a specific area might be destructed. Also, incompetent field members and issues with field study can also be interpreted as a major limitation of baseline studies.
Biases: It is observed that completing the VEC and EIA procedure is crucial for any baseline study. Henceforth, preferences can be found from the development of the multi-disciplinary team. Hence, differences in approaches and mentality can influence the entire process of baseline studies. In this context, the role of clients can also be discussed. It is observed that clients often restrict project consultants for demonstrating in-depth research on a specific site. Biases have been observed from the attitude of clients as in most of the time, secondary sources for data gathering are preferred by the clients, rather than on-field investigating. Also, critics have identified differences in values, which is another reason for generating biases in the field of study. As defined by Ferraro (2009), criteria of baseline studies could be changed according to different circumstances.
Hence, it can be said that baseline studies are often considered as not comprehensive in assessing the impact of the environment.  
2: Financial boundary extension is often rejected during any project development. However, some remedies are available that can help project consultants to fight for the financial boundary extension. It is observed that baseline studies are essential to present an accurate picture of any project. Hence, it is significant for crafting an appropriate baseline study to identify the accuracy and plausibility of any project. As commented by Wood (2003), specific pre-project baseline studies are required to maintain sufficient information for enhancing the post-project description. From this statement, it can be said that fighting for financial boundary extension for baseline studies is most important than fighting for a post-project story. Economic boundary extension during the baseline study development would inform project consultants to put the focus on the multiple areas before starting any project on any site.
3: The City and Country of Denver have taken an initiative to transform almost 1400 acres west of Charlotte Douglas International Airport into the River district. I have contacted with a project management team member of this consultancy, who are actively engaged in this plan. Hence, from the secondary research and primary information from that person, I have understood that the project consultants are looking to develop the infrastructure of this area, which might improve the condition of traffic in this area.  I can say that this can be achieved by extending the West Boulevard towards the Dixie River Road in phase one. Simultaneously, I have addressed that the project consultants are looking for a 485 interchange in this area, which might impact the environment. However, I have found that the baseline studies are getting established in these stated areas, which highlight the priority of the Government and the consultancy firm. However, in order to maintain this area sustainable, the project leaders are leaving almost 40% of the area, uncleared. I can say that this will maintain the sustainability in this area as the 550 acres of uncleared areas will work as a big buffer across this project.
Furthermore, I have observed that the collaborative partners of this project, are focusing on developing greenery across the entire area. In this context, it can be said that establishing such a plan will enhance the sustainability of nature. Besides this, I can say that these organizations are looking after in developing green street strategies. The primary reason for the improvement of these strategies is to enhance the quality of air and water in this area and an effective reduction of urban heat. I have found that the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation has endorsed the plan for water quality controls of this area.
Reference
Ferraro, P. J. (2009). Counterfactual thinking and impact evaluation in environmental policy. New Directions for Evaluation, 2009(122), 75-84.
Koivurova, T. (2017). Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the Arctic. Abingdon: Routledge.
Wood, C. (2003). Environmental impact assessment: a comparative review. London: Pearson Education.

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