PhD Ana Villarroya BallarinAna Vil­lar­roya Bal­larin has pre­pared a PhD study focus­ing on envi­ron­men­tal impact assess­ment and bio­di­ver­sity off­sets in Spain at the fac­ulty of sci­ences at Uni­ver­sity of Navarra. The work is enti­tled “ECOLOGICAL COMPENSATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
ASSESSMENT IN SPAIN: CURRENT PRACTICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT” and was already accepted in 2012. For more infor­ma­tion see the sum­mary below or con­tact Ana directly.


Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Assess­ment (EIA) aims at improv­ing the envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity of those projects with sig­nif­i­cant effects on the envi­ron­ment. Dur­ing this pro­ce­dure, envi­ron­men­tal impacts caused by an EIA reg­u­lated activ­ity are iden­ti­fied and ana­lyzed, and pro­pos­als are advanced to counter them. When the sus­tain­abil­ity goal is set in avoid­ing net losses in envi­ron­men­tal qual­ity by a project imple­men­ta­tion, com­pen­satory mea­sures have a cru­cial role to play, as they are the only way to counter resid­ual impacts, those that remain after all impact avoid­ance and min­i­miza­tion mea­sures have been imple­mented. But, what is the level of com­pen­sa­tion imple­mented in EIA frameworks?

This doc­toral dis­ser­ta­tion ana­lyzes the case of eco­log­i­cal com­pen­sa­tion in Span­ish EIA and the dif­fi­cul­ties that it faces, and advances some pro­pos­als to increase prac­tice lev­els. The first sec­tion (chap­ters I, II, and III) focuses on how fre­quently eco­log­i­cal com­pen­sa­tion is present in EIA pro­ce­dures, mainly for roads and rail­ways. It stud­ies as well some of the poten­tial dif­fi­cul­ties that explain the low eco­log­i­cal com­pen­sa­tion prac­tice level found. Among the tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties, the atten­tion focuses in the dif­fi­culty of iden­ti­fy­ing and valu­ing all resid­ual impacts pos­si­bly caused by any given project. Among the con­cep­tual ones, the status-quo of a pre­vail­ing social mind­set that accepts eco­log­i­cal qual­ity losses as inevitable stands up.

The sec­ond sec­tion (chap­ters IV, V, and VI) stud­ies how eco­log­i­cal resid­ual impacts are val­ued, reg­is­tered and shown, as well as the exist­ing guide­lines on how to choose the spe­cific mea­sures to be imple­mented. As a response to the results of this study, sev­eral pro­pos­als to improve and fos­ter eco­log­i­cal com­pen­sa­tion prac­tice in EIA in Spain are advanced.

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