Checklist methods range from listings of environmental factors to highly structured approaches. Structured approaches involve importance weightings for factors and the application of scaling techniques for the impact of each alternative on each factor. Simple checklists represent lists of environmental factors (or impacts) which should be addressed; however, no information is provided on specific data needs, methods for measurement, or impact prediction and assessment. Simple checklists were extensively used in the initial years of EIA studies, and they still represent a valid approach for providing systemization to an environmental impact study.
Table 2.3.2 shows a simple questionnaire checklist developed by the Cooperative Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (1990) for use related to projects that might impact agricultural lands. This extensive checklist can be used in both planning and summarizing an environmental impact study. It can also be used to identify environmental factors to be addressed in preparing a description of the affected (baseline) environment. Another example of a simple checklist is that developed by the Asian Development Bank (1987) for use on major dam, reservoir, and hydropower projects. This checklist also includes mitigation information. Other checklists have been developed: some focus on categories of impacts, such as health impacts (U.S. Agency for International Development 1980, World Bank 1982, and World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe 1983).
Simple checklists of environmental factors and impacts to consider are helpful in planning and conducting an environmental impact study, particularly if one or more checklists for the project type are used. The following summary comments are pertinent for simple checklists:
1. Because published checklists represent the collective professional knowledge and judgment of their developers, they have a certain level of professional credibility and useability.
2. Checklists provide a structured approach for identifying key impacts and pertinent environmental factors to consider in environmental impact studies.
3. Checklists stimulate and facilitate interdisciplinary team discussions during the planning, conduction, and summarization of environmental impact studies.
4. Checklists can be modified (items added or deleted) to make them more pertinent for particular project types in given locations.
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