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   Course Title    Environmental Impact Assessment
Lecturer    Andrei Fiodorov
Institution    Tiraspol State University
Country    Moldova


AIM OF THE COURSE:

EIAs were first introduced in the US National Environmental Policy Act in 1969 to help evaluate the environmental acceptability of projects under consideration. The technique involves an amalgamation of studies based on predetermined approaches. In other words, EIA is the evaluation of the effects likely to arise from a major project or other action significantly affecting the natural and man-made environment. In 1988, the UK Department of the Environment stated that EIA is essentially a technique for drawing together, in a systematic way, expert qualitative assessment of a project’s environmental effects, and presenting the results in a way which enables the importance of the predicted effects, and the scope for modifying or mitigating them, to be properly evaluated by the relevant decision-making body before a decision is given. Environmental assessment techniques can help both developers and public authorities with environmental responsibilities to identify likely effects at an early stage, and thus to improve the quality of both project planning and decision-making.

In 1996, the Law on Ecological Expert Evaluation and the Evaluation of Impact on the Environment was passed in the Republic of Moldova. This Law integrated the already existed system of ecological expertise with the model of environmental impact assessment (termed in the Law "evaluation of impact on the environment"). However, only a few EIAs have been implemented in the country since then.

The course introduces the procedures of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). It focuses on the study of human impacts on the environment and the ways of evaluation of the importance and significance of these impacts and of regulation of their effects. A number of EIA issues are analyzed in detail including the origin, principles, and purposes of EIAs and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs), the principal stages in the EIA process (screening of projects, scoping of impacts, profiling, risk assessment, risk management, implementation, public participation, and decision-making, monitoring and auditing of impacts), the regulatory and procedural requirements for EIA and SEA in different countries (developed and developing, countries in transition and in international and multinational organizations such as World Bank (WB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the assessment methods used at different stages in the assessment process, strengths and weaknesses in current EIA practices, measures to improve future EIA practices (legal, institutional, organizational and methodological aspects). International legislation on EIA is also analyzed in detail. Basic international documents in the area of EIA such as the NEPA act of the 1969, Directive 85/331 on EIA of the European Council, Directive 97/11 on EIA of the European Council, Operational Directive 4.01 of the World Bank, etc. are discussed. The class contains information on organizations and actors involved in the EIA processes including the developers of projects, environmental consulting firms, governmental agencies, NGOs, mass media, etc. The course also provides details on Moldovan environmental legislation and institutional framework, environmental management, policy and planning in the Republic of Moldova, environmental requirements of major international organizations working in the Republic of Moldova, ecological expertise in the Republic of Moldova, public participation and access to information in the Republic of Moldova, etc.

 

ROLE OF THE COURSE IN THE OVERALL DEGREE CURRICULUM:

Many universities located in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and most CIS countries have been working on the reorganization of their curricula to include a number of environmental disciplines such as environmental management, environmental policy, environmental history, environmental ethics, human impact, etc. This reorganization is mainly determined by the understanding of particular importance of environmental issues for the sustainable economic development, by the commitment to numerous international environmental conventions and treaties, etc. One of the courses, which is being included in the revised curricula, is Environmental Impact Assessment. There are few people in the region with an adequate background in EIA implementation and operation despite the significant need for EIA technique. Tiraspol State University is the only educational institution of the Republic of Moldova where the EIA class is developed to be included in the curriculum. The class is designed to be taught to graduate and advanced undergraduate students of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Geography and the Faculty of Economics majoring in geography, natural sciences, environmental sciences, environmental studies, economics, and management.

 

METHODS USED:

The class is organized in lectures and seminars and contains such methodological elements as field studies, environmental problem-solving, role model playing, environmental debates, group projects, scientific report writing, and oral presentations. In class, students follow the sequence of topics outlined in the course syllabus. The course is built around three levels of knowledge - information presented in lectures, discussed in seminars, and materials presented in the text. Students are responsible for completing the readings as they are assigned. Two group projects are assigned at the beginning and the middle of the semester. Students are also expected to prepare two in-class presentations and write several research papers. Two field trips are expected at the end of the semester. In addition, several guest speakers are expected to come to the class during the semester. Outline lecture notes are available for students to follow along with during the class. Assignments include collecting data, reference materials, and other information from libraries, experts, and other sources, environmental field surveys and investigations, and preparation of reports. The course contains a number of case studies (local, national, regional, and global scales of projects are considered). The examples are based on contemporary issues, ongoing projects, and practices of economic importance. Particular attention is given to local / regional practices / projects. Environmental impact association is often a requirement for the granting of international loans for large projects in developing countries and countries in transition. The methodology to be adopted and the particular cultural context prevailing in such countries are usually very different from those in developed countries. The duration of the course is 15 weeks (one semester), 2 class meetings (one lecture and one seminar) per week, 2 academic hours per meeting.

 

COURSE CONTENT:

1. Introduction: terminology, nature of EIA, diffusion and evolution of EIA, the European Union directives on EIA, environmental policy and institutional framework in the Republic of Moldova, legal basis for EIA in the Republic of Moldova, Law on Ecological Expert Evaluation and the Evaluation of Impact on the Environment. Planning and Management of Impact Studies: conceptual approach for environmental impact studies, proposal development, interdisciplinary team formation, team leader selection and duties, general study management, fiscal control, summary. Simple Methods for Impact Identification – Matrices, Networks, and Checklists: background information, interaction-matrix methodologies, network methodologies, checklist methodologies, summary.

2. Description of Environmental Setting (Affected Environment): conceptual framework, initial list of factors, selection process, documentation of selection process, data sources, special issues and concerns, summary. Environmental Indices and Indicators for Describing the Affected Environment: background information, environmental-media indices (air quality, water quality, noise, ecological sensitivity and diversity, archeological resources, visual quality, quality of life), development of indices, summary.

3. Prediction and Assessment of Impacts on the Air Environment: basic information on air quality issues, legislation and regulations (international, European, national), conceptual approach for addressing air environment impacts (identification of the types and quantities of air pollutants and of their impacts, description of existing air quality conditions, procurement of relevant air quality standards and regulations, impact prediction, assessment of impact significance, identification and incorporation of mitigation measures), summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

4. Prediction and Assessment of Impacts on the Surface-Water Environment: basic information on surface-water quantity and quality, legislation and regulations (international, European, national), conceptual approach for addressing surface-water-environment impacts (identification of surface-water quantity or quality impacts, description of existing surface-water resource conditions, procurement of relevant surface-water quantity-quality standards, impact predictions, assessment of impact significance, identification and incorporation of mitigation measures), summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

5. Prediction and Assessment of Impacts on the Soil and Groundwater Environments: background information on the soil environment, background information on groundwater quantity and quality, legislation and regulations (international, European, national), conceptual approach for addressing soil- and groundwater-environment impacts (identification of soil and / or groundwater quantity-quality impacts, description of existing soil and / or groundwater resources, procurement of relevant soil and / or groundwater quantity-quality standards, impact prediction, assessment of impact significance, identification and incorporation of mitigation measures), summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

6. Prediction and Assessment of Impacts on the Noise Environment: basic information on noise, legislation, regulations, and guidelines (international, European, national), conceptual approach for addressing noise-environment impacts (identification of noise impacts, description of existing noise-environment conditions, procurement of relevant noise standards and / or guidelines, impact prediction, assessment of impact significance, identification and incorporation of mitigation measures), summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

7. Prediction and Assessment of Impacts on the Biological Environment: basic information on biological systems, legislation and regulations (international, European, national), conceptual approach for addressing biological impacts (identification of biological impacts, description of existing biological-environment conditions, procurement of relevant legislation and regulations, impact prediction, assessment of impact significance, identification and incorporation of mitigation measures), summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

8. Habitat-based Methods for Biological-Impact Prediction and Assessment: Habitat evaluation system (HES), habitat evaluation procedure (HEP), current issues related to HEP methods, other habitat-based methods, comparison of methods, mitigation banking – an outgrowth of HES and HEP, summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

9. Prediction and Assessment of Impacts on the Cultural (Architectural, Historical, and Archeological) Environment: basic information on cultural resources, legislation and regulations (international, European, national), basic steps for cultural-impact prediction and assessment (identification of known cultural resources, identification of potential cultural resources, determination of significance of cultural resources, determination of impacts on cultural resources, selection of proposed action and impact mitigation, procedures for construction-phase findings), summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

10. Prediction and Assessment of Visual Impacts: basic definitions and concepts, legislation and regulations (international, European, national) related to aesthetic resources, conceptual approach for visual-impact prediction and assessment (delineation of the types of potential visual impacts, description of existing visual resources, procurement of relevant institutional information, prediction of impacts on existing visual resources, assessment of significance of predicated impacts, identification and incorporation of mitigation measures), summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

11. Prediction and Assessment of Impacts on the Socioeconomic Environment: background information, conceptual approach for addressing socioeconomic impacts (identification of socioeconomic impacts, description of existing socioeconomic conditions, prediction of socioeconomic impacts, assessment of socioeconomic impacts), education services impacts, traffic and transportation system impacts, human health impacts, summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

12. Decision Methods for Evaluation of Alternatives: conceptual basis for trade-off analysis, importance weighting of decision factors, scaling, rating, or ranking of alternatives, development of decision matrix, examples of checklists used in decision making, comparative case studies, current trends, summary observations on decision-focused checklists, methodology selection, summary.

13. Public Participation in Environmental Decision Making: definitions, regulatory requirements, advantages and disadvantages of public participation, public participation in the environment impact assessment process, objectives of public participation, identification of publics, selection of public participation techniques, techniques for conflict management and dispute resolution, practical considerations for public participation program implementation, incorporation of results in decision making, verbal communications in environmental impact studies, summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

14. Preparation of Written Documentation: initial planning phase, detailed planning phase, writing phase, summary. Environmental Monitoring: background information, purposes, case studies of monitoring, planning considerations for monitoring program, guidelines and policies, summary. The Republic of Moldova case study.

15. Comparative Review of EIA systems: EIA in the USA, EIA in the United Kingdom, EIA in the Netherlands, EIA in Canada, EIA in Australia, EIA in New Zealand. EIA in developing countries.

 

readings (only the English-language materials are listed):

A. MANDATORY:

1. Canter, Larry W., 1996. Environmental Impact Assessment. Second Edition. McGraw-Hill Inc. Series in Water Resources & Environmental Engineering. 660 pages.

2. Environmental Science for Environmental Management, 2000. Edited by Timothy O’Riordan. Second Edition. Prentice Hall. Pearson Education Limited. 520 pages.

3. Glasson, John. 1999. Introduction to Environmental Impact Assessment: Principles and Procedures, Process, Practice, and Prospects. UCL Press. 496 pages.

4. Wood, Christopher, 1995. Environmental Impact Assessment / A Comparative Review. Prentice Hall. Pearson Education Limited. 337 pages.

B. RECOMMENDED:

1. Alexander, David and Goudie, Andrew. 1997. The Human Impact Reader: Readings & Case Studies. Blackwell Publishers. 448 pages.

2. Atlas of the World. 2000. Oxford University Press. 416 pages.

3. Calow, Peter. 1999. Handbook of Environmental Impact Assessment. Blackwell Science.

4. Erickson, Paul A. 1994. A Practical Guide to Environmental Impact Assessment. Academic Press. 266 pages.

5. Europe’s Environment. Statistical Compendium for the Dobríš Assessment, 1995. ECSC-EC-EAEC. Brussels. Luxembourg. 455 pages.

6. Europe’s Environment. The Dobríš Assessment, 1995. Edited by David Stanners and Philippe Bourdeau. European Environment Agency. Copenhagen.

7. Fiodorov, A.B., 2002. Moldovan Nature on My Mind (in print).

8. Fiodorov, A.B. and Chaney, W.R. 1998. Natural Resources of the Black Sea Region. Purdue University. 322 pages.

9. Goudie, Andrew. 2000. The Human Impact on the Natural Environment. Blackwell Publishers. 511 pages.

10. Jain, R.K., et al., 2001. Environmental Assessment. Second Edition. McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing. 700 pages.

11. Lee, Norman, et al., 2000. Environmental Assessment in Developing & Transitional Countries - Principles, Methods & Practice. John Wiley & Sons. 312 pages.

12. Marriott, Betty B. 1997. Environmental Impact Assessment: A Practical Guide. McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing. 320 pages.

13. Morris, Peter, 2001. Methods of Environmental Impact Assessment. Second Edition. Routledge. 416 pages.

14. National Geographic Atlas of the World. 1999. National Geographic Society. 280 pages.

15. Newson, N. 1993. Managing the Human Impact on the Natural Environment Patterns & Processes. Mutual Book & Periodical Service. 282 pages.

16. Petts, Judith, 1999. Handbook of Environmental Impact Assessment. In two volumes. Blackwell Science Inc.

17. Redman, Charles L. 1999. Human Impact on Ancient Environments. University of Arizona Press. 288 pages.

18. Republic of Moldova, 1998. Environmental Performance Reviews Series No. 3. Economic Commission for Europe. United Nations Publications. 163 pages.

19. Westman, Walter E., 1985. Ecology, Impact Assessment, and Environmental Planning. Wiley-Interscience. 544 pages.

20. Wright, L. W. 1993. Environmental Systems and Human Impact. Cambridge University Press. 60 pages.

 

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