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close this bookConducting Environmental Impact Assessment in Developing Countries (United Nations University, 1999, 375 p.)
close this folder6. Environmental management measures and monitoring
View the document6.1 Introduction
Open this folder and view contents6.2 Environmental management plan (EMP)
View the document6.3 Post-project monitoring, post-audit, and evaluation
View the documentFURTHER READING

6.3 Post-project monitoring, post-audit, and evaluation

Monitoring is required to evaluate the success or failure (and consequent benefits or losses) of environmental management measures and subsequently to reorient the management plan. It is essential that a good detailed monitoring programme be designed for appropriate projects (this design should be prepared as part of the EIA study and should be presented as a major component of the report including the detailed monitoring workplan, reporting procedure, and manpower and costs budgets) and that regular monitoring reports be submitted to environmental agencies. When these procedural needs are fulfilled, the EIA planning tool is put to use in a much more effective manner, and benefit analysis will be possible, which will determine how successful the EIA process is in preventing or minimizing environmental degradation.

The EIA procedures should include a formal requirement to review completed projects and judge the predictions and recommendations made against actual experience. The purposes of such an audit are to determine whether consequences were accurately predicted, to identify additional significant effects warranting corrective action, and to use the results to refine the impact predictions for future projects of the same type and magnitude.

Monitoring is essential for continuing EIA inputs to management (i.e., mid-course corrections, compliance with mitigation actions, and improvement of predictions). We have seen that predictive accuracy is limited because of the scarcity of information on impacts and natural variations in the environment. All development projects should be managed with the expectation of surprising outcomes and the necessity to adapt and change implementation actions if the goals are to be met. Monitoring provides an early warning that adverse impacts (predicted or not) are occurring.

Table 6.7 Definitions of monitoring assessments procedures

Operations

Definition

Monitoring

Long-term, standardized measurement, observation, evaluation, and reporting of part of the environment in order to define status and trends

Survey

A finite duration, intensive programme to measure, evaluate, and report the quality of part of the environment for a specific purpose

Surveillance

Continuous, specific measurement, observation, and reporting for the purpose of environmental management and operational activities

Measures recommended to mitigate the impacts of development must be actually installed, operated, and maintained. Even so, their efficacy is often uncertain; thus, monitoring is necessary to see how well they work out and how cost-effective they are. As in the case of post-audit, compliance monitoring should be independent of the project operator, or at least the data should be verified by an independent group.

The overall evaluation of EIA in a particular government should be undertaken from time to time. All participants in the process should contribute constructive criticism and judgement as to how well EIA has helped achieve sustainable development.

The owners of the projects will be obliged to carry out the monitoring or surveillance programme, continuously or at defined intervals, and to report results to the regulatory body. If adverse effects beyond those anticipated in the original environmental impact assessments become apparent, remedial actions would have to be taken. In an extreme case, if suitable remedies cannot be found, closure of the project might be required.

The various procedures that may be adopted during monitoring, and the distinction between them, are shown in Table 6.7.

Monitoring may involve sampling of air, water, and soil, and the data collection programme should be planned to obtain the greatest value from the data, which is often expensive to collect and process. Care should be taken to classify and store data for easy retrieval, so that it can be useful as baseline or reference data for other assessments.

In the few retrospective studies made, the findings have been disconcerting. Forecasts are admittedly difficult, but they are often so imprecise and vague that their accuracy cannot really be ascertained. Many impacts are presented as unquantified assertions without any indication of their likelihood or significance. Not surprisingly, physiographic information is usually more complete and precise than biological impact prediction. Social considerations often occupy disproportionate space (in terms of what is actually known) in an EIA, but that is a reflection of the essential political use of these documents.

The post-audit can begin at once with existing EIAs on completed projects. It is a valuable training device and also helps to find empirical evidence for cause-effect relationships that will be useful in ongoing and future EIAs. Post-audit may be difficult in that the performers of past EIAs are being second guessed. Therefore, it should be carried out by a group independent of the environmental agencies, perhaps a panel drawn from the academic community.

The post-implementation monitoring of a project may involve audits which are somewhat different from the industrial audit. Three types of audit relevant to an EIA on a motorway project are listed here as an example:

• implementation audits, for determining whether the recommendations or requirements in an EIA were implemented;

• project impact audits, which determine the actual impacts of a project, independent of the predictions made, and

• predictive techniques audits, assessing the predictions made in the EIA report, and the methods of prediction used, by comparing actual outcome with the forecast ones (this would aid future studies).