It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method

 

£1,220.00 Payment plans available.

Enable Javascript to automatically update prices.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!

Qualification -Certificate In Environmental Studies

Course CodeVEN002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours
QualificationCertificate

DEVELOP YOUR OPPORTUNITIES IN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

  • Prepare for a career
  • Build your skills for career advancement
  • Discover or improve business opportunities
 

COURSE STRUCTURE

This course consists of SIX 100 hour modules. 

There are FIVE core modules - Environmental Assessment, Wildlife Management, Introduction to Ecology, Conservation and Environmental Management and Trees for Rehabilitation.  You then choose ONE elective module from Botany I, Environmental Waste Management, Ecotour Management, Wildlife Conservation or Earth Science. 

Modules

Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification -Certificate In Environmental Studies.
 Introduction To Ecology BEN101
 Conservation & Environmental Management BEN201
 Trees For Rehabilitation (Reafforestation) BHT205
 Wildlife Management BEN205
 Environmental Assessment BEN301
 
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 1 of the following 5 modules.
 Botany I - Plant Physiology And Taxonomy BSC104
 Ecotour Management BTR101
 Earth Science BEN204
 Environmental Waste Management BEN202
 Wildlife Conservation BEN206
 

Note that each module in the Qualification -Certificate In Environmental Studies is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


MORE ON THE CORE MODULES -
 
 

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Types of Employment for Environmental Scientists:
    • Pre purchase inspections
    • background data
    • Flora and Fauna Surveys
    • Open Space Management Plans
    • Detection of Pollutants
    • Use of Plants
    • Remediation of Polluted Sites.
  2. Introduction to Environmental Assessment:
    • What is Environmental Assessment?
    • Definitions of Environmental Assessment
    • General Principles
    • Overview of Environmental Assessment
  3. International Environmental Law:
    • Foundations of Environmental Law
    • Making International Laws (Treaties and Customary Law)
    • Milestones in International Environmental Law
    • Principles of International Environmental Law
    • Institutions that influence Environmental Law
    • Environmental Impact Assessment
    • Environmental Law.
  4. Domestic Environmental Law
    • Examples of Domestic Environmental Law
    • Research into Domestic Environmental law.
  5. Types of Environmental Assessments:
    • Environmental Impact Assessment
    • Environmental Impact Statement
    • Risk Assessment/Risk Analysis
    • Ecological Risk Assessment
    • Strategic Environment Assessment
    • Environmental Audit
    • Regional Risk Screening
    • Ecological Impact Assessment
    • Social Impact Assessments and Statements
    • Economic and Fiscal Impact Assessment
    • Health Impact Assessment
  6. The Design and Process of Environmental Assessment:
    • Steps in the Environmental Assessment Process (Scoping, Screening, Alternatives to the Proposal, Collection and Analysis of Information, Public Involvement, Reporting the Findings of the Study, Post Project Analysis)
    • Study design (Baseline Studies, Predicting Impacts, Mitigation Measures)
    • Data Collection and Analysis.
  7. Writing Environmental Reports:
    • The Scientific Method and Report Writing
    • Generic Outline for an Environmental Statement
    • Examples of Suggested Layouts for Environmental Assessments
    • Effective Report Writing.
  8. Research Project
    • The Research Project is the student’s opportunity to test out their skills as an environmental consultant. In this project, the student will carry out a small environmental assessment and write it up as a professional report.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • To appreciate the range of employment available to scientists skilled in environmental assessment
  • Develop an understanding of the basics of environmental study design, analysis and reporting within a legal framework.
  • Be aware of the international legislation relevant to environmental assessment
  • Research the legislation which dictates the environmental assessment requirements in the student’s home country.
  • Appreciate the range of environmental assessment techniques that have been developed to assess a range of situations around the globe.
  • Understand the environmental assessment process in enough depth to manage a small environmental assessment.
  • Write a professional environmental report.
  • Prepare an environmental impact assessment including carrying out all research and writing up the actual report.

What You Will Do

  • Contact a laboratory (either by telephone, email, or in person) that carries out tests for environmental contaminants.
  • Research the organisation in the local area that handles environmental complaints and the procedure for lodging such complaints.
  • Identify developments that require an environmental assessment.
  • Contact an Environmental Consulting Firm that carries out Environmental Assessments to determine the most common type of environment assessment in the local area.
  • Contact the local government organisation to determine what sort of environmental assessments are required for the different classes of development.
  • Research one treaty that influences environmental issues in the locality.
  • Research the legislation in the student’s home country that governs the preparation of environmental assessments.Research the legislation in one other country that governs the preparation of environmental assessments.Compare the two.
  • Identify factors that influence developer’s decisions on where to locate their developments.
  • Read and review an Environmental Assessment Report
  • Source the original data from an Environmental Assessment to determine how the data was analysed after collection.
  • Write one “dummy” environmental assessment from beginning to end.
  • Carry out a major research project in the form of an environmental assessment.This project will include data scoping, study design, data collection, data analysis, conclusions and a professionally presented finally report.

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT

There are 9 lessons as follows:

1. Introduction to Wildlife Management

  • What is Wildlife Management
  • Approaches to Wildlife Management (Preservation, Conservation, Management)
  • Purpose of Wildlife Management
  • Goals
  • Decision Making (Who makes decisions, Making good decisions)
  • Needs of Wildlife
  • What’s a Good Habitat
  • Limiting factor
  • Carrying capacity
  • Landscape Fragmentation
  • Habitat Diversity
  • Arrangement
  • Biological Control
  • Integrated Pest Management 

2. Wildlife Ecology

  • Ecology (Mutualism, Commensalisms, Competition, Predation, parasitism, herbivore)
  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Population Ecology
  • Community Ecology
  • Ecosystem Ecology
  • Interactions within a Community
  • Competition
  • Predation
  • Parasitism
  • Commensalism
  • Mutualism
  • The Food Web (Derital Web, Grazing Web, Trophic Levels)
  • Energy Flow
  • Imbalances

3. Wildlife Habitats

  • Introduction
  • Classification of Habitats
  • Biomes, Ecosystems, Microclimates
  • Timbered Biomes (Boreal Forest/ Taiga, Temperate Forest, Tropical ForestWoodland)
  • Scrubland
  • Tropical Savannah
  • Temperate Grassland
  • Arctic Tundra
  • Alpine
  • Semi-desert
  • Desert
  • Man Made Biomes (Urban, Agricultural)
  • Wet Biomes (Mangrove, Rivers, Benthos, Pelagic, Continental Shelf, Coral Reef,
  • Animal Use of Features in Biomes (Trees, Logs, Surface Rocks and Ground Cover, Creeks, Wetlands and Dams)
  • Case Studies
  • Changes to Habitats (Physical, Biological, Pollution)
  • Water for Wildlife
  • Site Water Points
  • Managing Trees
  • Deforestation
  • Afforestation

4. Population Dynamics

  • Populations
  • Birth or Fecundity Rate
  • Death or Mortality Rate
  • Growth Rate
  • Life Tables
  • Cohort or Dynamic Life Tables (Age Specific)
  • Static or Time Specific Life Tables
  • Rodents
  • Squirrels
  • Rabbits
  • Mosquitoes
  • Grasshoppers
  • Case Studies of different animals in different countries 

5. Carrying Capacity

  • Introduction
  • Exponential Population Growth
  • What is Carrying Capacity
  • Fisheries stock management (stock Identification, assessment, biomass)
  • Stock Management Methods

6. Wildlife Censuses

  • Introduction and census types
  • Total Counts
  • Sampling (Simple Random, Stratified Random, Systemic, Two Stage, Double sampling)
  • Accuracy vs Precision
  • Bias Errors
  • Aerial Surveys
  • Trapping
  • Transects
  • Indirect Methods
  • Mark-Recapture method
  • Roadside and Call Counts
  • Mapping
  • Sampling methods for specific types of animals (ie. Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, Invertebrates, Mammals etc.)
  • Animal Ethics
  • Case Study 

7. Wildlife Management Techniques

  • Habitat Modification
  • Fire
  • Vegetation Management
  • Predator Control
  • Habitat Features
  • Seeding
  • Population Monitoring
  • Captive Breeding and Release
  • Culling and Cropping
  • Control of pest or undesirable wildlife species
  • Control Objectives
  • Effects of Control
  • Control Techniques (Manipulating mortality, fertility, Genetic Engineering, indirect methods)

8.  Wildlife Management Law and Administration

  • Policy and Wildlife Law
  • International Environmental Law
  • Treaties
  • International Customary Laws
  • Hard vs Soft Law
  • Domestic/National Law
  • Evolving Domestic Law
  • Sources of Legislation
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Enforcement

9. Wildlife Management Case Study Research Project

Problem Based Learning Project with following aims:

  • Identify the objectives of a management program for an endangered species.
  • Determine appropriate techniques for carrying out a census of an endangered species.
  • Identify techniques for increasing the population of the endangered species.
  • Identify pest species and their undesirable effect on the endangered species of bird.
  • Identify techniques for reducing the undesirable impacts of the pest species on the endangered bird.
  • Present a management plan in a form that is appropriate for use by wildlife worker.

Aims

  • Develop a concept of how man manages wildlife populations in different situations around the world.
  • Understand and discuss the principles of wildlife ecology.
  • Understand wildlife habitats and their importance to managing wildlife.
  • Explain how populations of any one species change and adapt to variations in their environment.
  • Understand carrying capacity and its importance in managing wildlife populations.
  • Explain a range of different methods used to determine the number of individuals in a wildlife population.
  • Discuss a range of different wildlife management techniques.
  • To understand the potentials and limitations of legal and administrative initiatives, in the pursuance of more effective wildlife management.
  • Examine a specific wildlife management case of interest to the student.

What You Will Do

  • Network with individuals and organisations involved in wildlife management (over the internet, by phone, mail or in person -There's lots of flexibility in how you do this!)
  • Research pest species of wildlife and endangered or threatened species of wildlife.
  • Visit a natural area in your locality and observe the organisms in the area and their interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Explain what trophic levels are and how energy flows between them.
  • Define habitat, biome, vegetation formation and feeding radius.
  • Visit a zoo, wildlife park, game reserve, pet shop, fauna sanctuary or other place where wild animals are kept in captivity to observe the animals in their captive surroundings and compare these with their native surroundings.
  • Identify a predator-prey relationship between two species in a local ecosystem and make predictions about changes to this relationship.
  • Research the difference between r and K strategists in animals.
  • Design a wildlife survey using a suitable sampling technique. Write this survey up as a mini scientific report containing an Abstract/Project Summary, Methods and materials section, Results/Discussion and Conclusion.
  • Research the success of one wildlife program where wildlife have been bred in captivity and then released.
  • Draw up a table that lists the advantages and disadvantages of allowing hunting to proceed in game parks where the animals being hunted are native to the area.
  • Telephone or contact a wildlife management agency in your area to determine the relevant local, regional, national and international laws that apply to wildlife in your locality.
  • Prepare a report of no less than 1000 words on a population of animals surveyed during the course.

TREES FOR REHABILITATION

There are 10 lessons in this course.

1. Approaches To Land Rehabilitation: The Importance of Trees, Understanding Plants, Plant Identification, Land Management Programs, Soil Degradation, Biodiversity, Salinity, Erosion, Soil Compaction and Acidification, Land Rehabilitation.
2. Ecology Of Soils And Plant Health: The Ecosystem, Biomass, Web of Life, Indigenous Species, Creating Habitat for Wildlife through Corridors, Design Considerations, Edge Effects, Soil Characteristics (physical and chemical), Improving Soils, Plant Nutrition, Nutrient Elements, Diagnosing Nutritional Problems, Pests and Diseases
3. Introduction To Seed Propagation Techniques: Seed Propagation, Germinating Difficult Seeds, Sowing Seeds, Propagation Containers, Tube Seedlings, Production Systems, Sources of Seed and Seed Germination Resources
4. Propagation And Nursery Stock: Asexual Production, Cutting Types, Stock Plants, Root Cuttings, Hormone Treatment, Nursery Hygiene, Propagation Mixes, Potting Media, Maintaining Plants in Pots, Using a Greenhouse, Irrigation Systems, Propagating Different Species
5. Dealing With Chemical Problems: Soil Contamination, Symptoms of Chemical Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Growing Plants on Contaminated Soil, Building Site Rehabilitation, Chemical Composition of Soils.
6. Physical Plant Effects On Degraded Sites: Pioneer Plants, Site Protection, Designing and Planting a Firebreak, Arranging Plants, Fire Resistant Plants, Stormwater, Waterlogging and Drainage.
7. Plant Establishment Programs: What to Plant Where, Climate, Criteria for Plant Selection, Planting and Plant Protection Methods.
8. Hostile Environments: Planning, Rehabilitation Techniques, Mulching, Weed Management and Trees and Shrubs that are Salt Tolerant.
9. Plant Establishment Care: Planting Procedures, Water and Plant Growth, Plant Health, Inspecting a Plant, Inspecting the Immediate Environment, Methods, Prioritising Problems
10. Rehabilitating Degraded Sites: Environmental Assessments and Audits, Implementing a Land Rehabilitation Management Program and Replanting.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Compare different approaches to land rehabilitation, to determine strengths and weaknesses of alternative options on a site to be rehabilitated.
  • Determine techniques to maximise plant development in land rehabilitation situations.
  • Explain the different ways of producing seedling trees for land rehabilitation purposes.
  • Determine appropriate plant establishment programs.
  • Develop procedures to care for plants, during establishment in an hostile environment.
  • Manage the rehabilitation of degraded soil.
  • Explain the effect of plants on improving a degraded site, both physically and chemically.

What You Will Do

  • Determine ten different examples of land degradation on sites visited by you.
  • Explain different reasons for land requiring rehabilitation, including:
    • Salination
    • Erosion
    • Mining
    • Grazing
    • Vegetation harvesting
    • Pests
    • Reduction of biodiversity
    • Soil contamination
    • Urbanisation.
  • Compare the effectiveness of different policy approaches to land rehabilitation by different agencies and organisation, including:
    • Different levels of government
    • Mining companies
    • Developers
    • Conservation groups (i.e. tree planting bodies, landcare groups).
  • Develop a risk analysis for a specified site to be rehabilitated, by determining a variety of plant health problems which may impact on the success of plant establishment.
  • Analyse the failure of plants to grow successfully on a visited land rehabilitation site.
  • Develop a procedure to enhance the success rate of land rehabilitation plantings on a degraded site visited by you.
  • Describe the use of mulches, to maximise plant condition in a specified land rehabilitation tree planting project.
  • Explain different processes of establishing seedlings on land rehabilitation sites, including:
    • tubestock nursery production
    • direct seeding
    • pre-germinated bare rooted seedlings.
  • Determine factors which affect the viability of establishing five different species of plant seedlings, from five different plant families; on a specific degraded site.
  • Compare the benefits of acquiring plants for a project by buying tubestock, with propagating and growing on, or close to, the planting site, with reference to:
    • costs
    • plant quality
    • local suitability
    • management.
  • Prepare production schedules for a plant species, using different propagation techniques, summarising all important tasks from collection of seed to planting out of the tubestock.
  • Calculate the cost of production for a tubestock plant, according to the production schedule developed by you.
  • Estimate the differences in per plant establishment costs, for tubestock, compared with direct seeding methods, for planting on a degraded site.
  • Describe three different methods of planting trees for rehabilitation purposes.
  • Describe different plant establishment techniques, including:
    • wind protection
    • frost protection
    • pest control
    • water management
    • weed management.
  • Describe an appropriate method for preparing soil for planting, at a proposed land rehabilitation site in your locality.
  • Evaluate plant establishment techniques used by two different land rehabilitation programs inspected by you at least twelve months after planting was carried out.
  • Determine the needs of plants after planting, on two different proposed land rehabilitation sites.
  • Describe two different, efficient ways, of catering to the needs of large numbers of plants after planting.
  • Collect pressed specimens or photographs of twenty trees for a herbarium of suitable trees for rehabilitation, and including information on the culture and care of each tree.
  • Describe different types of soil degradation, detected in your locality.
  • Determine the risk factors involved in soil degradation, relevant to your locality.
  • Compare two different alternative methods of treating each of three different soil degradation problems identified and inspected by you.
  • Develop an assessment form to use for evaluating the sensitivity of a site to land degradation.
  • Evaluate a site showing signs of degradation, selected by you, using the assessment form you developed.
  • Plan a rehabilitation program for the degraded site you evaluated, including
    • a two year schedule of work to be completed
    • list of quantity and type of materials required
    • approximate cost estimates.
  • Explain the effect six different plant species may have resisting soil degradation.
  • Explain how different plants can have different impacts upon the chemistry of their environment, including both air and soil.
  • Evaluate the significance of a group of plants, to the nature of the microclimate in which you find them growing.
  • Compare the appropriateness of twenty different plant species for different degraded sites.
  • Determine five plant varieties, suited to each of six different degradation situations.

 

CONSERVATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. An Introduction To Ecology
    • Spaceship Earth
    • Conservation; Use of Resources, ecological value, economic value, genetic diversity
    • Overkill
    • Urbanisation
    • Basic Ecology
    • The Ecosystem
    • Constituents for the Ecosystem
    • Ecological Concepts
    • The Web of Life; climate, producers, consumers, decomposers The Food Web
    • Habitat and Niche
    • Humans in the Environment
    • Energy Flow
    • Imbalances
    • The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming
    • Climate Change
    • El Nino
    • International Efforts to Counter Climate Change; IPCC, UNFCC, Kyoto Protocol, Copenhagen Summit, Worldwatch Institute, etc
    • Terminology
  2. A Perspective On Environmental Problems
    • History of Conservation
    • Natural Resources; Renewable, Non Renewable
    • Goals of Conservation
    • History from Industrial Revolution to WWII
    • WW2 and Post War Period
    • International Conservation
    • Deforestation
    • Loss of Agricultural Land
    • Loss of Biodiversity Endagered Water Supplies
    • Exhaustion of Non Renewable Resources
    • Political and Economic Issues of Conservation
    • Environmental Damage in Free Economies
    • Pollution in Planned Economies Supply of Resources
    • Limits to Growth
  3. Pollution and Industry Effects On The Environment
    • Nature and Scope of Pollution
    • Industrial Pollution
    • Types of Pollutants
    • Effects of Pollution
    • Nuclear Pollution
    • Sick Building Syndrome
    • Asbestos Fibre
    • Urbanisation
    • Energy Alternatives
    • Deforestation
    • Nuclear Energy, Hydro Power, Solar Energy, Wind, Waste Power
  4. Water and Soil
    • Introduction
    • Dams
    • River Catchments
    • Wetlands
    • Water Pollution
    • Recycling
    • Desalination
    • Water Environments
    • The Hydrological Cycle; Infiltration, Rainfall, Evaporation, Effective Rainfall, etc
    • Water and Plant Growth
    • Keeping Water Clean
    • Sewerage Treatment
    • Soil; pH, texture, structure
    • Land and Soil Degradation;
    • Loss of soil fertility
    • Erosion
    • Salinity
    • Soil compaction
    • Soil acidification
    • Build up of dangerous chemicals
  5. Vegetation Conservation and Management
    • Value of Trees
    • Commercial Value of Trees
    • Rainforests
    • Forest Systems and Biomass
    • Forest Conservation
    • Trees and the Environment
    • Environmental consequences of Deforestation
    • Afforestation
    • Classification of Forests
    • Desertification
    • Acid Rain
    • Environmental Weeds
    • Strategies for Preservation of Native Grasslands
  6. Animal Conservation & Management
    • The Human Animal
    • Urbanisation
    • Wildlife
    • Threatened Species
    • Invasive Species
    • Wildlife Management; approaches, preservation, conservation, goals
    • Wildlife Habitats
    • Water Management for Wildlife
    • Wildlife Surveys
  7. Marine Conservation and Management
    • Estuaries
    • Fisheries; stock management, assessment, biomass, stock management methods
    • Conservation of Sandy Shores
  8. The Future
    • Tourism and the Environment
    • Ecotourism
    • Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD)
    • Framework for ESD

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Provide a basic introduction to the study of ecology
  • Provide a brief perspective on environmental problems and their causes
  • Provide a brief introduction to pollution and its effect on the environment and conservation
  • Increase your awareness of the relationship between soil and water and understand their effects on the environment and conservation
  • Understand techniques of vegetation management that are used in a range of situations
  • Identify methods used to monitor and manage large natural animal populations and land areas used for sustainable species continuance
  • Identify the methods used to monitor and manage natural marine populations for sustainable species continuance
  • Describe the role of Ecologically Sustainable Development policies in future environment management

What You Will Do

  • Describe ecological processes and associated sustainable management techniques.
  • Investigate a specific environmental problem and provide possible solutions.
  • Evaluate the relationship between industry and pollution.
  • Discuss principles of water and soil management.
  • Select a specific type of plant that is endangered or an environmental problem and submit a case study.
  • Explain animal conservation strategies, including protection legislation, breeding programs and habitat conservation.
  • Discuss a specific issue that applies to marine conservation.
  • Develop profiles of three different conservation and/or environment lobby group organisations and procedures used in promoting their cause.
 

Introduction to Ecology

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Ecosystems & Populations
    • Components of an ecosystem, Biomes, Detrital & grazing webs, trophic levels, energy flows etc
  2. The Development Of Life
    • Lifespans, Natural selection, Genetics, Understanding arguments for and against theory of evolution, etc
  3. Animals, Parasites & Endangered Species
    • Comparative anatomy, how animals fit in ecosystems, animals in the human community, parasites, etc
  4. Fungi, Tundra, Rainforests & Marshlands
    • Physiology, anatomy, classification and ecology of fungi; Location, the climate, the plant and animal life
    • related to different systems including tundra, marshes and rainforests.
  5. Mountains, Rivers & Deserts
    • Formation ecology and importance of mountains (including erosion, volcanoes etc), formation & types of rivers, catchments, dams, deserts and their ecology, etc.
  6. Shallow Waters
    • Shore lines, coral reefs, intermediate reefs, estuaries, sandy shores, etc.
  7. Ecological Problems
    • The Greenhouse Effect, The Ozone Layer, Poisons & Waste Materials

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • To identify the components of an ecosystem and how they interact.
  • Discuss the basis of the Theory of Evolution and those elements of science which influenced the theory.
  • To discuss the existence of animals in the ecosystem.
  • To discuss the presence of plant life in a range of ecological situations
  • To discuss the ecological features of mountains, rivers and deserts.
  • To discuss the ecological features of shallow water regions and coral seas.
  • To discuss the ecological implications of human activities on the environment.

What You Will Do

  • Observe an ecosystem in your local area.Identify the inhabitants of the ecosystem and their location in the food web of that system.
  • Compare the similarities and differences between the detrital web and the grazing web
  • Discuss what scientific discoveries the Theory of Evolution, both past and present, is based on.
  • List and explain the four arguments of evolution.
  • Define Natural Selection.
  • Discuss how genetics are related to evolution.
  • Go to an ecological environment (as natural and un-human interfered as possible) and observe the plants and relationships that exist.
  • Visit a local stream or river. Observe the condition of the stream, particularly the presence of indigenous vegetation and its affect on stream bank condition. Also look for evidence of human activity on the condition of the stream or river
  • Discuss, in your own words, the theories which have been advanced in the past regarding the formation of coral reefs.

 

Environmental Management Starts with Assessment

Around the world, many countries have legislation in place that requires environmental assessments be carried out in certain situations. Whilst international environmental laws do set down the concept of environmental assessment, it is local laws that dictate the actual details of what is required in each country.

Environmental assessment is basically a planning tool that helps decision makers to determine the potential impacts, and methods of impact mitigation, of a proposed change or development on the local and/or regional environment. It involves the collection of biological, physical and social data, its evaluation, and resultant actions. Environmental assessment aims to encourage developers to recognise the importance of environmental factors when planning a development, and to minimise impacts on these factors. The goal of environmental assessment is to ensure environmental sustainability.

The aim of environmental assessments is to protect the environment for everyone. Environmental Assessment (EA) can take the form of an Impact Assessment (IA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Environmental Statement (ES), Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), and a number of other types. There is no global convention that dictates that a certain type of assessment be called a certain thing. Usually, the name and type of environmental assessment is country-specific.

Principles of Environmental Assessment

Different countries have varying expectations of those who work in environmental assessment. Some countries have regulatory bodies that provide guiding principles for environmental assessors. Other countries have limited regulation of environmental assessment procedures and guidelines. The United Nations (UN) has developed eight guiding principles and processes that environmental assessors should work under. These are:

  • Transparency – all assessment decisions and their basis should be open and accessible.
  • Credibility – an assessment should be undertaken with professionalism and objectivity.
  • Participation – there is appropriate and timely access to the process for all interested parties.
  • Certainty – the process and timing of the assessment should be agreed upon in advance and followed by all participants.
  • Accountability – the decision makers are responsible to all parties for their action and decisions under the assessment process.
  • Practicability – the information and outputs provided by the assessment process are readily usable in decision making and planning.
  • Flexibility – the assessment process should be able to adapt to deal efficiently with any proposal and decision-making situation.
  • Cost-effectiveness – the assessment process and its outcomes will ensure environmental protection at the least cost to the society.

Environmental audits/assessments are undertaken to evaluate the extent of degradation or contamination of a site and to ascertain the appropriateness of the intended future use. This type of work is usually carried out by qualified assessors that are administered through an Environmental Protection Agency governing these issues in your region.

To effectively introduce management procedures for a degraded site you need to know:

  • The extent of the degradation – this will require an environmental audit/assessment to take place.
  • The future use of the site – i.e. is the area to be a public space, for industrial use, or for private use?
  • The local government or environmental protection restrictions that may be in place for this site – local planning laws may restrict the use of the site, or the environmental audit may deem it unsuitable for particular applications.

An environmental audit:

  • Takes into consideration the extent of harm or risk that an activity (industrial or otherwise) may have on the environment in the form of waste, substance or noise
  • Offers, independent, objective, authoritative advice from which business, individuals or government bodies can make informed decisions
  • Helps individuals, industry and government bodies take actions which will reduce risk to the environments they are managing
  • Helps industry to maintain environmentally sound production systems and procedures through regular audits.
  • Helps individuals, industry and government bodies apply these audit principles to reduce risk and prevent degradation to new un-degraded sites
  • Develops an understanding of the environmental management procedures required for diverse situations i.e. new infrastructure, urban services, public events, primary production and natural resources.

An environmental audit may include:

  • Present land use i.e. public, agriculture, industry,  and the components parts; ie. roads, buildings, waterways, water surface area, pasture, meadows, forest etc.
  • Size of the area and the area covered by each of the above components
  • Soil type – texture, structure, pH and will include tests to determine the presence of chemical contaminants in the soil
  • Position of rocks and also bedrock; size, type and depth
  • Position of unusual land-forms ie. cliffs or dunes
  • Depth of the water-table
  • Identification of aquifers – primary, principle or sole running under the area.  
  • Identification of plant and animal species
  • Identification of endangered plant and animal species
  • Identification of scenic views.