By Douglas J. Crookes and Martin P. De Wit
CRITIQUE – 2
Citation: Crooks D. And De Wit M. An evaluation of tools for an assessment of cumulative effects in socio-Economic impact studies, Journal of Environmental assessment policy and Management, Vol. 11, No.3, 2009. pp 311-329
The study focused current and potential tools used for assessing cumulative effects in socio economic studies. It analysed the approaches with their roots in various context such as experimental economics, industrial ecology and system theory. The evaluation of the qualitative and quantitative tools addressed the knowledge gap existing in addressing cumulative effects appropriately and effectively in the socio economic studies. The study also revealed that what tools in which context should be used in order to analyse the cumulative effects efficiently.
Cumulative effects are defined as “impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (federal or non-federal) or person undertaken such other actions” (Council of Environmental Quality, 1978).
This study was theory-based traditional research. Need of assessing cumulative effects in socioeconomic studies, the theory that drove this study, argues “Even with the advent of approaches such as strategic environmental assessment, an assessment of cumulative effects in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) remains important” (p. 312). This is supported by the statement by Clark (1993) as “...perhaps the most ecologically devastating environmental effects may result not from the directs of a particular proposal, but from the combination of existing stresses and the individually minor effects of multiple actions over time”.
This was an overall evaluation study where different types of traditional and experimental approaches were analysed including applications, limitations, advantages and disadvantages of each tools.
This study explained the approaches considering a big scope; environmental and ecological aspects, economic aspects, People’s perspectives, future uses and potential, efficiency of the approach and so on. The researchers used several examples and related studies for the evaluation.
There are various approaches used to assess cumulative effects by different authors. However, there are no standard methods of cumulative impact assessment among the variety of analytically and planning-oriented tools to analyze and evaluate cumulative impacts (Canter et al, 1997). Examples include; Council of Environmental Quality, 1997; Sadler and Verheem, 1996; Smit and Spaling, 1995). However, Walker et al, 1999 stated that, when choosing the method the key points need to be considered are; the nature of the impact(s), the availability and quality of data and the availability of resources (time, finance and staff)”
Similarly evaluation criteria used by this study includes scenario-based approach, integration and participatory nature. Smit and Spaling, 1995