Josianne Claudia Sales Rosa and Luis E. Sánchez have published a new paper on “Is the ecosystem service concept improving impact assessment? Evidence from recent international practice” in Environmental Impact Assessment Review (Volume 50, January 2015, Pages 134–142). You can assess the full paper online here and find the abstract copied below.
Considering ecosystem services (ES) could foster innovation and improve environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) practice, but is the potential being fulfilled? In order to investigate how ES have been treated in recent international practice, three questions are asked: (i) were the tasks of an ES analysis carried out? (ii) how is such analysis integrated with other analysis presented in the ESIA? (iii) does ES analysis result in additional or improved mitigation or enhancement measures? These research questions were unfolded into 15 auxiliary questions for reviewing five ESIA reports prepared for mining, hydroelectric and transportation infrastructure projects in Africa, Asia and South America. All cases incorporated ES into ESIA to meet a requirement of the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability. It was found that: (i) in only three cases most tasks recommended by current guidance were adopted (ii) all reports feature a dedicated ES chapter or section, but in three of them no evidence was found that the ES analysis was integrated within impact assessment (iii) in the two ESIAs that followed guidance, ES analysis resulted in specific mitigation measures. Few evidence was found that the ES concept is improving current ESIA practice. Key challenges are: (i) integrating ES analysis in such a way that it does not duplicate other analysis; (ii) adequately characterizing the beneficiaries of ES; and (iii) quantifying ES supply for impact prediction.