Environmental & Cumulative Effects Assessment
ESSA has a unique approach to impact assessment. Our philosophy and methods derive from our mission to sustain ecosystems and communities, our founding principles of adaptive management and our history.
The history of impact assessment has involved a struggle between a noble intent (identifying and mitigating impacts) and inadequate knowledge of how to do that job in a scientifically defensible manner. In all of our domestic and international work on impact assessment over the last four decades, we’ve taken a systematic and rigorous approach grounded in the principles and practices of adaptive environmental assessment and management (AEAM ).
We identify the appropriate spatial scales and time horizons for assessing impacts, collaboratively build conceptual or quantitative models of how activities might affect valued ecosystem components, predict the range of possible futures based on Western science and traditional or local knowledge, explicitly acknowledge and explore the uncertainty in those predictions, and design programs to monitor outcomes, test predictions and adjust management actions over time. We integrate impact assessment with climate change adaptation to ensure resilient ecosystems and communities. The most recent reviews of current EA practice are consistent with the approach we’ve been using and evolving since 1979.
Our work in this practice area encompasses:
- regional assessments of cumulative impacts;
- rigorous impact assessments and adaptive management plans for industries and government agencies;
- third party review of impact assessments on behalf of First Nations and communities, and
- evaluations of compliance with international best standards.
Explore the following sample of projects in EA/CEA which showcase our work and a foundational reading list from which we draw inspiration. Contact Darcy Pickard ([email protected]) or Carol Murray ([email protected]) for more information about our work in this practice area.
- Cronmiller, J.G., and B.F. Noble. 2018. Integrating environmental monitoring with cumulative effects management and decision making. Integrated environmental assessment and management. 14 (3): 407-417. doi: 10.1002/ieam.4034
- Duinker, P.N., and L.A. Greig. 2006. The impotence of cumulative effects assessment in Canada: ailments and ideas for redeployment. Environmental Management. 37(2): 153-61. DOI: 10.1007/s00267-004-0240-5
- Duinker, P.N., and L.A. Greig. 2007. Scenario analysis in environmental impact assessment: Improving explorations of the future. Environmental Impact Assessment Review. 27: 206-219. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eiar.2006.11.001
- Gillingham, M.P., G.R. Halseth, C.J. Johnson, and M.W. Parkes (editors). 2016. The Integration Imperative: Cumulative Environmental, Community, and Health Effects of Multiple Natural Resource Developments. Springer Publishing https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319221229
- International Finance Corporation (IFC). 2013. Good Practice Handbook Cumulative Impact Assessment and Management: Guidance for the Private Sector in Emerging Markets https://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/3aebf50041c11f8383ba8700caa2aa08/IFC_GoodPracticeHandbook_CumulativeImpactAssessment.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
Jones, F.C. 2016. Cumulative effects assessment: theoretical underpinnings and big problems. Environmental Reviews. 24 (2): 187-204, https://doi.org/10.1139/er-2015-0073
Joseph, C., T. Gunton, and M. Rutherford. 2015. Good practices for environmental assessment. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal. 33 (4): 238-254.https://doi.org/10.1080/14615517.2015.1063811
- Lee, N., and C. George (editors). 2013. Environmental Assessment in Developing and Transitional Countries: Principles, Methods and Practice https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/book/10.1002/9781118685570
Noble, B., and K. Storey. 2005. Towards increasing the utility of follow-up in Canadian EIA. Environmental Impact Assessment Review. 25: 163–180 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eiar.2004.06.009
- Williston, P., J. Aherne, S. Watmough, D. Marmorek, A. Hall, P. de la Cueva Bueno, C. Murray, A. Henolson, and J.A. Laurence. 2016. Critical levels and loads and the regulation of industrial emissions in northwest British Columbia, Canada. Atmospheric Environment. 146: 311-323. https://www.sciencedirect.com/