Environmental Assessment BEN301

The importance of Environmental Assessments

Environmental assessment is a tool for effective environmental management. 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.



There are 9 lessons in this course as follows:

  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 and 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 and 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.


  • 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.


Here are some of the things you may 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.
  • Investigate 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.


Types of Environmental Assessments

Some of the more common types of environmental assessment used around the world are:

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Environmental Impacts Assessments (EIA) are carried out as a major step in the early planning of projects that are likely to affect biological resources and habitats in the surrounding environment. The EIA shall ensure that the environmental effects of the project are taken into consideration in the planning and design phases. The EIA is often based in national legislation, international conventions and agreements. EIA requires a multi-disciplinary and holistic approach, involving identification of vulnerable resources and areas of conflict based on a thorough evaluation of the area affected and the expected discharges and technical implementations.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

The Environmental Impact Statement is usually the term used to describe the actual report that is compiled to report the findings of an EIA. Environmental consultants need to know suitable formats for presenting an EIS. A draft or preliminary EIS may precede an actual EIS. Public comment may be called for using a draft or preliminary document as a guide before the production of a final EIS.

Environmental Risk Assessment

The purpose of Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) is to provide decision makers with a tool that enables them to establish and maintain acceptable environmental safety levels for their operations. An ERA identifies how much each individual activity or component contributes to the total risk to the environment, so that risk reduction can be undertaken. There are four stages involved in an ERA, including:

  • Hazard identification, involving identifying chemicals or materials present and determining their quantity, form and location.
  • Hazard analysis, which determines the characteristics of a pollutant, the release potential of a pollutant and potential pathways through which a hazard could be released.
  • Risk estimation, which involves an application of a low dose of a pollutant to determine the effect of a pollutant on the environment.
  • Risk evaluation, which involves a prediction of the probability that an adverse effect will occur and the significance of this effect.

Ecological Risk Assessment

Ecological Risk Assessments examine the effects that human activities have on the plants and animals that make up ecosystems. Ecological risk assessments can be used to identify vulnerable and valued resources, prioritize data collection activity, and to determine which human activities may have which potential effects. Risk assessments provide a basis for comparing different management options, enabling decision makers and the public to make better informed decisions about the management of ecological resources

Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA)

A strategic environment assessment is similar to an environmental impact assessment, but it varies in its scope. An SEA is broader in that it encompasses not only environmental issues, but also economic and social ones. These kinds of assessments are usually large and they may apply to a whole sector (such as a national policy on energy), rather than a one off development.

Environmental Audit

Environmental Audits are used in some countries to evaluate a company's environmental management system, including its regulatory compliance status. Environmental audits are often voluntary.


Career tips for the Environmental industry

  • Ensure your skills are up to date, by pursuing further studies or attending professional development activities.
  • Keep up to date with what's happening in the field of Environmental Assessment. What are the most pressing issues and where is there likely to be more work?
  • Join a networking group to meet people who are working in the field such as Environmental Consultants.
  • Get some experience. Whether paid or unpaid, experience will always make your CV look more impressive and give you some practical knowledge to apply in your interview.


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