William Laurance: Improving Environment Impact Assessments

ENSIA:

Illustration by Kelsey King

Illustration by Kelsey King

The EIA is the frontline of environmental protection in most countries. It’s a legal requirement placed on a developer to measure the impact on nature of their proposed development. If that impact includes anything the government has pledged to protect, such as a threatened species, then the development may be halted or redesigned to avoid the impact.

Or that’s the idea, anyway. The only problem is that the EIAs are rarely stopping bad projects. All around the world we see a growing catalog of cases where EIAs are giving green lights to developments that should never see the light of day — projects that are destroying irreplaceable habitat or threatening the last representatives of endangered species.

Here are eight things we can do to help:...