Use of animal species data in environmental impact assessments

Edo Knegtering, J. Marijke Drees, Paul Geertsema, Hans J. Huitema, Anton J. M. Schoot Uiterkamp

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Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) should ideally help minimize adverse effects on biological diversity by considering impacts of projects on wide ranges of species. This paper investigates how recent Dutch EIAs included the species comprising animal diversity. We present results of two studies on fauna data used in the EIAs. Objectives were to determine for different taxa (a) the relative representation of species in Environmental Impact Statements (EISs); (b) the extent to which EISs referred to specific species and the accuracy of survey data referred to; and (c) apparent roles of different EIA actors in species inclusion. EIAs were found to use data on various taxa but on limited numbers of species. The frequency with which taxa were included varied significantly. Birds were most frequently included, followed by mammals, amphibians, and other species groups. The quality of data on birds exceeded that regarding other vertebrates. Our results indicate that (a) EIA working groups of independent experts were the most influential in determining the data to be used; (b) on average, proponents included data more often than required by guidelines; and (c) in 30 to 40% of the EIAs, the participation of nongovernmental organizations prompted use of data. Despite the key role of experts in data inclusion, the taxon rankings found in the EIAs showed little deviation from those observed in studies on people's preferences for species. Given the limited ranges of species considered, it is doubtful that the EIAs examined effectively contributed to conserving animal species diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-871
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2005


  • The Netherlands
  • Environmental Impact Assessments
  • biodiversity
  • species
  • animals
  • experts

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