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PREDICTION AND ASSESSMENT OF IMPACTS ON THE BIOLOGICAL ENVIRONMENT

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historical perspective, impact prediction for the biological environment has focused on land-use or habitat changes and the associated implications of those factors relative to the biological system. Several options are available for impact-prediction approaches, including qualitative descriptions of impacts, the use of habitat- based methods or ecosystem models, and the use of physical models or simulations. Broader impact issues of increasing importance are biological diversity and sustainable development.

Habitat-Based Methods or Models Approaches


If habitat-based methods have been used to describe the biological environmental setting, these can also form the basis for impact prediction. As indicated in Chapter 11 (relative to HES and HEP), there are detailed requirements in predicting future changes of the acreages of habitat types, as well as in predicting changes in the individual parameters used to describe the habitat for individual species (as in the case of the HEP) or for the general biotic and abiotic components of the system (as in HES). It should be noted that usage of habitat-based methods does require predictions of changes in acreage

Qualitative Approaches
Qualitative descriptions could be associated with a discussion of land use or habitat changes. One tool which can be helpful in identifying the types of impacts (effects) that might take place on the biological system is the list of 52 effects found in Table 10.11. The general approach would be to consider each of these factors and determine its applicability to the project and the environmental setting. If deemed applicable, then either specific quantitative information could be assembled, or at least qualitative discussions prepared, on the implications of the project relative to the particular biological items identified. In using this approach, the considerable exercise of professional judgment would be required. If structured data presentations, discussed earlier, have been utilized to describe the biological environmental setting, it would also be possible to apply the list of effects in Table 10.11 to the results of the structured data approaches. Again, it would be necessary to exercise professional judgment in the interpretation phase. One additional technique in the area of structured data presentations is to consider adding impact-prediction information to the structured data presentation itself. For example, in considering Table 10.1, additional information could be added in a series of columns at the right-hand side of the table. Five such additional columns could be address the following issues 1. The likelihood of impact, with this likelihood shown in terms of a relative scale of high, medium, and low. 2. The duration of the impact in terms of whether it would be associated with the short-term construction phase of a project versus the long-term operational phase. In addition, this column could include information on the actual anticipated duration of the impact. 3. The reversibility of the impacts. Perhaps two codes could be used in this column, with one denoting items that are irreversible and the other denoting those particular impacts that might be recoverable. This column could also relate to the possibility of success in trying to reduce the impact and to potentially reverse it through various developed programs. 4. The relative resiliency of individual plant or animal species within the study area. (It is quite well-known that some species are more tolerant of change than others.) 5. Potential mitigation measures for a given project type.