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Environmental Impact

Assessment (Elective III)

Chapter Four
Establishing Environmental baseline
• Impact: Impact of an activity is a deviation (a
change) from the baseline situation that is
caused by the activity.
• The baseline situation: It is the existing
environmental situation or condition in the
absence of the activity.
• To measure an impact, you must know what
the baseline situation is.
Environmental Impact
• Baseline studies:
• Most important reference point for conducting EIA
• “baseline” refers to collection of background
information on the bio-physical, social and economic
setting for a proposed project area
• Information obtained from: secondary sources, field
• Task of collecting baseline data:
• Starts from the period of project inception
• During scoping
• After scoping
Generalized EIA Process Flowchart
Collection of baseline data
Baseline indicates measurement of existing
conditions, against which changes can be
measured and evaluated.
• Purposes:
• To provide a description of the status and trends of
environmental factors (eg, air pollutant concentrations)
against which predicted changes can be compared and
evaluated in terms of importance
• To provide a means of detecting actual change by
monitoring once a project has been initiated.
Environmental setting
• Description of environmental setting:
Characteristics of the area of proposal
• Description of study area within which effects,
impacts, features and potential compensation
would occur from proposed plan and its
• Level of details should be sufficient to convey
the readers or reviewers the precise nature of
natural and human resources.
Environmental setting
• Geology
• Topography
• Soils
• Groundwater resources
• Surface water resources
• Terrestrial communities
• Aquatic communities
Environmental setting
• Environmentally sensitive area
• Land use
• Demography
• Sound levels
• Socio-economic
• Infrastructural services
• Transportation
• Cultural resources

Only necessary baseline data is collected

Collection of baseline data
• EIA is conducted under severe time constraints
(often 2 to 3 months, sometime upto 6 months)
• Baseline study may take a long time: time
(delays) and money (cost) is wasted
• Therefore, baseline study should be focused on
those aspects that are likely to be affected
• Baseline data is collected only for the
prediction of impacts contained in ToR
Major Environmental parameters
• Importance of baseline data in critical
decision-making: An example of fish
population in a Hydro-electric Project (Arun
III Nepal)