Environmental Assessment

Course CodeBEN301
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Study Environmental Assessment and Extend your Scope of Skills as a Horticulturist

The most important knowledge for a career in environmental consultancy or as an environmental officer is the assessment of the environment and its resilience to changes. Work in this area has expanded greatly in recent decades, and when combined with a knowledge of plant or animal identification and ecology, this course develops an extremely valuable skill.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Environmental Assessment
    • 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, Employment in a Multi-Disciplinary Team.
  2. Overview of Environments Assessment
    • What is Environmental Assessment? Definitions of Environmental Assessment, Overview of the Environmental Assessment Process.
  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
    • Evolving Domestic Environmental Law, Strategies for Domestic Environmental Policy, Establishment of Environmental Standards, Liability, Environmental Impact Assessment, Prior Authorisation and Enforcement.
  5. Types of Environmental Assessments
    • Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Impact Statement, Environmental Risk Assessment, 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 (Screening, Scoping, Collection and Analysis of Information, Public Consultation and Participation, Reporting the Findings of the Study, Post Project Analysis) Impact Prediction and Evaluation including Impact Identification Methods and Impact Assessment Techniques, Data Collection, Statistical Analysis of Data and Statistical Tests.
  7. Writing Environmental Reports
    • Environmental Statements, Report Structure, Suggested Layouts for Environmental Statements, Report Presentation, Examples of Environmental Impact Statements.
  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 go through the steps involved in carrying out an 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.


Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Law

To be able to make an assessment of any type of environmental impact; you need to understand the various components of the environment, and the things that might affect their status.
A horticulturist is well placed to contribute to such work; and the frequency and significance of this type of work has been growing strongly over recent times.
 
This is a course that can compliment and extend the skills of a horticulturist; opening up opportunities for work in areas they may not have previously considered.

Environmental Impact Assessment can be defined as a process used to identify and predict the impact on the biophysical environment and on people's health and wellbeing, of legislative proposals, policies, programs, projects and operational procedures, and to interpret and communicate information about the impacts.

There are well established requirements for Environmental Impact Assessments around the world. Environmental Impact Assessments were first introduced in the United States in 1969 after the enactment of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which stipulates that all major federal impacting activities which could have significant effects on the quality of the natural and man-made environment shall be subjected to the publication of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). By the 1980's the majority of European States were introducing EIA procedures. Today, over 120 countries have Environmental Impact Assessment policies, laws, regulations and guidelines.

Environmental Impact Assessment is usually called for in domestic law, but it is included in international law. For example, the 1992 Convention on Biodiversity calls for EIA procedures that allow for public participation for projects that are likely to have significant adverse effects on biological diversity. It also calls for arrangements to ensure that the environmental consequences of programs and policies that are likely to have significant adverse impacts on biological diversity are duly taken into account.

Domestic law (or national law) refers to the legal system governing a specific state or country. As outlined in the last lesson, environmental assessment is included in international law, but the actual nuts and bolts of what is required, and how requirements can be met within a country and its territories is decided by domestic law. For example, some domestic laws related to Environmental Protection in force at present are:

  • In Australia, The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
  • In Canada, The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 1995
  • In the United States, National Environmental Policy Act 1970
  • In the United Kingdom, Environment Act 1995

Textbooks that report on methods of environmental assessment are nearly always country-specific, and it would take a very large book to record every domestic law relating to environmental assessment around the world. Therefore, environmental consultants need to have a good working knowledge of the domestic law in their own country, as well as a grasp of the requirements of International Environmental Law.

Evolving Domestic Law

Domestic environmental law developed partly in response to the failure of property and other domestic or regional laws to address concerns arising from real or potential negative impacts of development. Many were put into place only after specific events that endangered public health or communities. In the 1970’s, the environment became a key issue for large segments of the global community, and became permanently linked to issues of social justice and human rights. Since then, environmental law developed rapidly, both nationally and globally. To a degree, domestic and international environmental law have grown along similar lines and helped shape and reinforce each other.

Some states have been slow to formulate environmental laws, or even to acknowledge existing or incipient environmental problems. As international aid and funding become more tied up with environmental, as well as economic and social practices, and domestic and international awareness of environmental issues grows, more states are addressing these concerns in domestic laws. One development arising from the growth of domestic and international law is the formation of separate institutions or bodies that are responsible for implementing and enforcing domestic environmental laws.

Where several states have formed a union (such as The European Union or EU), member states may formulate domestic and group laws. For example, the Maastricht Treaty on European Union (1992) has provided a legal basis for EU development of cooperative system of environmental law which allows members to seek action for breaches by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Such states may also have separate domestic environmental laws, subject to limitations imposed by their membership in the Union.

 

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