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Ecological Impact Assessment for Prediction and Assessment of Impacts on


the Biological Environment with respect to the Indian Scenerio*

Article · April 2012

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Nikos Mastorakis Vijayan Gurumurthy Iyer


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Models and Methods in Applied Sciences

Ecological Impact Assessment for Prediction and Assessment of


Impacts on the Biological Environment with respect to the Indian
Scenerio*
VIJAYAN GURUMURTHY IYER NIKOS E. MASTORAKIS
Principal WSEAS European Office
Prince Dr.K.Vasudevan College of Engineering and Agiou Ioannou Theologou 17-13,
Technology, 15773, Zografou, Athens,
9 B, Block-II, Ammaiappar Apartments , GREECE
Virugambakkam, Chennai-600 092, Tamilnadu, India. mastor@wseas.org
Mobile: 09444812401 http://www.wseas.org/mastorakis
Email: vijayaniyergurumurthy@rediffmail.com
vijayan_iw_2002@sify.com

Abstract: - Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning warm the earth ,
threatening the ecology and putting human welfare at long-term risk. In 2009, the combustion of
fossil fuels and production of cement sent more than 30 billion tonnes of carbon poured in to the
atmosphere. The combustion of coal itself representing 66% of the growth in emissions. About
51% of the carbon dioxide emissions only coming from China. Most of the energy intensive
manufacturing industrial goods are being imported by rich countries. It is necessary to conduct
ecological impact assessment studies for the World Projects of power plants and cement plants
and to design and develop greener energy systems .
“Ecological Impact Assessment” (EIA) can be defined as the systematic identification and
evaluation of the potential impacts (effects) of proposed projects, plans, programs, or legislative
actions relative to the biological components of the total environment. The purpose of the EIA
process is to encourage the consideration of the ecosystem in planning and decision making and
to ultimately arrive at actions which are ecologically compatible. Prediction and assessment of
impacts on the biological environment entail a number of technical and professional
considerations related to both the predictive aspects and the interpretation of the significance of
anticipated changes. Many projects ( and activities) can cause undesirable impacts on terrestrial
and / or aquatic ecosystems. Examples of such impacts include habitat degradation through
overgrazing practices; wetland drainage for agricultural , industrial ,or urban development
projects; habitat loss, with attendant consequences on fish and wildlife species due the
construction of hydropower projects; loss of critical habitat for endangered or threatened
species as a result of timber harvesting, recreational developments, and / or military training
activities; multiple aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem effects from acid rain formed as a
consequence of sulphur dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants; and potential toxic
effects to plants and / or animals as a result of air-or water-pollutant discharges or of waste-
disposal activities of industries and municipalities. This paper is structured around a six-step
methodology for biological-impact prediction and assessment with respect to the Indian
Scenario.
Key-Words: biodiversity, ecological impact, methodology, sustainable management

*This research paper entitled “ Ecological Impact Assessment for Prediction and Assessment of
Impacts on the Biological Environment “ Abstract Index number B167/2011 , was presented in

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Models and Methods in Applied Sciences

the 81 st Annual session of The National Academy of Sciences , India (NASI) in the National
Symposium on Sustainable Management of Biodiversity using Science and Technology during
November 24-26, 2011 at University of Kerala (University of Travancore), Thiruvanthapuram.

imported by rich countries. It is necessary


1 Introduction to conduct ecological impact assessment
studies for the World Projects of power
“Ecological Impact Assessment” (EIA) can plants and cement plants and to design and
be defined as the systematic identification develop greener energy systems .
and evaluation of the potential impacts
(effects) of proposed projects, plans, 2.1 Ecological impact assessment system
programs, or legislative actions relative to This system develops ecological inventories;
the biological components of the total Ecological impact assessment system would
environment. Ecology can be defined as the 1. Apply to All projects that are
study of the relationships of living things to expected to have a significant
one another and to their surroundings. environment impact and address
Environment can be defined as the all impacts that are expected to
surrounding in which a person, animal and be significant
plant lives; 2. Compare alternatives to a
Several activities are required in an proposed projects/ project site,
ecological impact assessment study, management technique, and
including biological impact identification, mitigation measures
preparation of a description of the affected 3. Result in a clear environmental
biological environment, impact prediction, impact assessment statement
and assessment of the biological which conveys the importance
environment, selection of the proposed of the likely impacts and their
action based on evaluation of alternatives specific characteristics to non
and from the alternatives evaluated to meet experts and experts in the field.
indentified needs and summarization and 4. Include broad public
communication of information[1]. participation and stringent
For the appropriate conduction of biological administrative review
impact studies , it is necessary to keep up-to- procedures.
date in this subject area. 5. Be timed so as to provide
2 Problem Formulation information for decision making
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from 6. Be enforceable
fossil fuel burning warm the earth , 7. Include monitoring and
threatening the ecology and putting human feedback procedures
welfare at long-term risk. In 2009, the
combustion of fossil fuels and production of 2.2 Important Elements of the Ecological
cement sent more than 30 billion tonnes and Biological Impact Assessment Process
carbon poured in to the atmosphere. The Ecological impact assessment for prediction
combustion of coal itself representing 66% and assessment of impacts on the biological
of the growth in emissions. About 51% of environment shall be undertaken to fulfill
the carbon dioxide emissions coming from the following needs :
China. Most of the energy intensive 1. Environmental effects with respect to the
manufacturing industrial goods are being ecological and biological aspects shall be

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Models and Methods in Applied Sciences

taken in to account early in the planning droughts, floods, overgrazing, as well as to


and new projects, programs, and activities. stresses created by society. In addition,
2. An environmental assessment shall be living organisms are adaptive and contain
carried out before commitments or great genetic variability, so that their
irrevocable decisions are made for such of reactions to multiple environmental
those projects which have an adverse stresses are not always predictable.
effects on environment. Eventually, a decision is made at the
3. The results of the assessments shall be political level as to whether to (1) accept the
used in planning and decision making and development, (2) Accept an amended form
implementation. of the proposed development, (3) accept an
4. To find the loss of wildlife and habitat alternative proposal, or (4) reject the
5. To finds the disturbances of aquatic development.
organisms and habitats 2.3 Ecological impact assessment system
6. To find the destruction of vegetation This system develops ecological
7. To find the erosion and sedimentation; inventories.
The first step of the EIA process is to 2.4 Environmental Impact Statements
determine whether a project falls within the 1. Describe a proposed action, as well as
relevant act or regulations, and whether the alternatives (including that of no action)
development is likely to create significant 2. Estimate the nature and magnitude of the
environmental disruptions[1]. The nature likely environmental effects of all
and magnitude of the environmental alternatives.
changes that are likely to occur and that 3. Identify the relevant human concerns.
must be estimated and included in the EIS 4. Define criteria to be used in measuring
with respect to the biological class. For the significance of environmental changes,
example, vegetation, wildlife; sport and including the relative weights to be assigned
commercial fish species; and endangered in comparing different kind of changes.
species. EIS included census of flora and 5. Estimate the significance of the predicted
fauna in the affected area , particularly with environmental changes (that is estimate the
respect to endangered species. The studies impacts of the proposed action).
of their life cycles, habitats and food chains 6. Make recommendations for monitoring
of representative species, with particular procedures to be followed during and after
emphasis on processes which control the implementation of the action.
behavious of environmental components. For the appropriate conduction of biological
Then an assessment is undertaken, leading impact studies , it is necessary to keep up-to-
to the preparation of an environmental date in this subject area[2].
impact statement (EIS). The EIS is open to 2.5 Conceptual approach for study
public scrutiny and may be reviewed at focused on ecological impact assessment -
public hearings. EIA Statements describe the Step 1:
affected ecological setting without project Identification of biological quantity and
[1]. quality impacts of proposed project
Using good scientific practice, activities
predictions of biological and ecological Step 2:
impacts are to be made. This shall be much Description of existing biological
more uncertain, this is because living environmental conditions:
organisms and communities of organisms Preparation of description of existing
are subject to many natural stresses; biological conditions and consideration of

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Models and Methods in Applied Sciences

endangered or threatened species and Description of Ecological impact


critical habit. assessment
Step 3: Step 1
Procurement of relevant laws , regulations Identification of biological quantity and
or criteria related to the impacts/or quality impacts of proposed project
conditions; biological quality standards; activities
Step 4: Given below the reasons for degradation of
Impact prediction of the biological land/loss of terrestrial and or aquatic
environment ; ecosystem [3].
Step 5: 1. Land resources used for industrial,
Assessment of biological impact residential, agricultural, transportation
significance purposes;
Step 6: 2. Timbering including forest based
Identification and incorporation of industrial development
mitigation measures; 3. Various graze practices;
4. Mining practices
3 Problem Solution 5. Water management practices
6. Military, recreational and other activities;
7. Eco-toxicological effects due to coal fired
power plants/ hazardous industries;

Step II
Preparation of a description of the flora and fauna components . Our Country is in rich of
biological Environment.
A list of the common plants and animals in India
Plants including forest trees ; 50,000
Animals ; 80,000
Flowering plants ; 20,000
Insects ; 67,000
Molluscs ; 1,000
Invertebrates ; 6,500
Fishes ; 1,400
Amphibians ; 140
Reptiles ; 420
Birds ; 1,200
Mammals ; 340

Remote sensing and ecological impact impacts of proposed project activities and
information system also assessing the significance of anticipated
Computerized database, analysis and changes.
display List of threatened and endangered animal
Computerized flora and fauna information and plant species
system (CFFIS) through structured database 1. Endangered species information
is necessary for describing the affected system (ESIS);
environment, in order to predict the potential

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Models and Methods in Applied Sciences

This database must include all kinds Sustainable development


of threatened or endangered animals It is the development that meets the needs
and plants (World’s poor) of the present without
Computerized Fish and wild life information compromising the ability of future
System (CFWIS) generations to meet their own needs
(World’s poor);
Step-V:
Step-III; Assessment of Ecological Impact
Professional judgment must be done in Significance:
applying the qualitative requirements for the Interpretation of the anticipated impacts of a
biological environment on the basis of proposed activity (or project) should be
relevant legislation, regulations, criteria, and considered in terms of individual species,
guidelines to the biological environment. habitats, and ecosystems.
Step-IV: The following programs concerned to public
Impact Prediction on the Basis of Bio- interest factors
diversity and Sustainable Development : 1. Conservation
Quantitative and qualitative impacts 2. Aesthetics
description for potential ecological impacts 3. Wetlands
(or effects); 4. Fish and wild life
Habitat based methods and models 5. Navigation
Habitat based system and models 6. Recreation
Habitat based approaches (HBA) refer to the 7. Water quality
habitat evaluation system and procedure 8. Food and fiber production
(HESP) ; 9. Mineral needs
Mathematical modeling approach 10. Economics
Physical modeling approach
Who are the EIA Professionals? 3. Declaration of a national
1. Biologists ecological policies
2. Engineers Proposals are to be made for the
3. Planners following legislations:
4. Geographers 1. Rare, threatened or endangered
5. Landscape architects species act
6. Archaeologists Because endangered plants get
Who are associated with the EIA extinct by inundation (flooded)
process? caused by hydroelectric dams.
Central, and State government Professionals, 2. To determine whether any
Scientific, Engineering , planning and endangered , threatened , rare or
environmental consulting firms, Consultants protected species is within the
and Private companies concerned to EIA project activities;
What is the Need for the National 3. Surface mining control and
Ecological Policy Act ? reclamation act ;-
1. Ecological policy act concerned Since surface mining activities can
to project planning and cause undesirable impact on the
evaluation, biological environment
2. Ecological assessment and 4. Natural resource management
policies plans

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Models and Methods in Applied Sciences

5. Wild life protection plans, 1. Vijayan G.Iyer, “Environmental Science


6. Wet land management plans and Sustainable Development are The
Basis of Environmental Education for
4 Conclusion the 21 St Century”, Abstracts Book of
the IV National Teacher’s Science
Ecological impact assessment can be Conference 2007 (NTSC-2007), Theme
systematically approached in terms of entitled” Environmental Education for
impact prediction and assessment. In this Better Life” ID number 1/Tamilnadu/17
paper, biological environmental settings organized by NCSTC-Network , New
such as energy flow diagrams, habitat Delhi , Hosted by Pahal, Uttanchal ,
evaluation system and species list with Rajeev Gandhi Navodaya Vidyalaaya ,
respect to qualitative description, have been Dehradun, www.ncstc-network.org, 22-
presented. Considering ecological impacts 25 September 2007,pp.69-70.
are the dynamic systems and based on the 2. Vijayan G.Iyer,“ Monitoring and
approach of various project activities, a six Measurement Opportunities of Food
step methodological frame work for Contaminants through Process
planning and conducting impact studies Approach”, Abstract Book in the VI
focused on only biological environment has National Teachers’ Science Congress
been presented . Technical tools have been 2011, November 8-11, 2011, Venue;
formulated and provided for problem Benares Hindu University, Uttar
solving so as to assess the potential Pradesh, pp.227.
ecological impacts such as , structured data 3. Vijayan G.Iyer,“ Some Case Studies of
presentation, biological and ecological Environmental Impact Assessment of the
indices, mathematical models, physical Hazardous Industries and Need of Clean
models, remote sensing and computerized Technology Applications in these
ecological information system (RSEIS). Process Industries”, Abstracts Book of
There is a scope for the biologists to study the 5 th National Teachers’ Science
the habitat based methods for the impact Congress-2009 , Focal Theme:
prediction and assessment for the biological Understanding Planet Earth, Venue:
environment including habitat quality index Regional Institute of Education,
and habitat suitability index. Bhubaneswar, Orissa 1-4 October, 2009
, pp. 208. Reference Number;
References: Tamilnadu/17/III, www.ncstc-
network.org.

Dr.Vijayan Gurumurthy Iyer, Ph.D., D.Sc., research publications and three books. His
LL.D. has been serving as Professor far the past publications have been cited more than 190
ten years. He has published more than 130 citation database.

ISBN: 978-1-61804-082-4 66

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