EXPLANATORY INFORMATION RELATED TO CERTAIN QUESTIONS ON THE CHECKLIST
Question 1: Examples of environmentally sensitive areas include:
a) Water sources;
b) Soils and soil conservation areas;
c) Areas subject to desertification; arid and semi-arid zones;
d) Tropical forests and vegetation cover;
e) Habitats of value to protection and conservation and/or sustainable use of fish and wildlife resources, particularly wetlands, mangrove swamps and coral reefs;
f) Areas of unique interest (historical, archaeological, cultural, aesthetic, scientific);
g) Areas of concentrations of population or industrial activities where further industrial development or urban expansion could create significant environmental problems (especially regarding air and water quality);
h) Areas of particular social interest to specific vulnerable population groups (e.g., nomadic people or other people with traditional lifestyles).
Question 2: The types of projects for which a clear statement of environmental effects should be provided include those which involve:
a) Substantial changes in renewable resource use (e.g. conversion of land to agricultural production, to forestry or to pasture land, rural development, timber production);
b) Substantial changes in farming and fishing practices (e.g. introduction of new crops, large-scale mechanisation); use of chemicals in agriculture (e.g. pesticides, fertilizers);
c) Exploitation of hydraulic resources (e.g. dams, irrigation and drainage projects, water and basin management, water supply);
d) Infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges, airports, harbours, transmission lines, pipelines, railways);
e) Industrial activities (e.g. metallurgical plants, wood processing plants, chemical plants, power plants, cement plants, refinery and petrochemical plants, agro-industries);
f) Extractive industries (e.g. mining, quarrying, extraction of peat, oil and gas);
g) Waste management and disposal (e.g. sewerage systems and treatment plants, waste landfills, treatment plants for household waste and for hazardous waste).
The specific types of beneficial and adverse environmental effects can vary from project to project. For example, an irrigation project - paragraph c) above - can have the beneficial effect of creating a new potential for fresh water fisheries. At the same time it can have the adverse environmental effects of increasing salinisation, soil erosion, etc.
Question 3: An example of an offsite effect would be the negative effects on aquatic life downstream from an industrial site when effluents are not treated before their discharge into a river or other body of water.
An example of the importance of including considerations of time lag in the decision are the secondary impacts of roads which penetrate undisturbed natural areas as they are often followed by large scale (shifting) cultivation and environmental degradation.
Question 4: Mitigation measures are actions taken to diminish or alleviate negative environmental effects. Examples include:
a) Treating industrial effluents before they are discharged into bodies of water;
b) Providing noise barriers for highway and industrial projects;
c) Establishing wildlife reserves and other protected areas to compensate for land taken for development purposes.
Question 6: Affected populations should participate in defining and understanding the problems in planning and implementing the solutions associated with development projects. This requires a heavy emphasis on equity considerations in development and the need to decentralise decision-making processes. This should be accompanied by efforts which help foster sustainable development and full participation on the part of rural populations.
Question 8: An environmental assessment of a project or programme should begin at the pre-feasibility or project proposal stage and be integrated with cost-benefit and engineering feasibility studies.
Question 10: One way for ensuring the dissemination of environmental information related to the project is through an inter-ministerial/agency consultative process in the developing country prior to making a final decision on the project.
Question 11: Examples of measures which can be taken to strengthen developing country governmental institutions include the provision of training courses in environmental assessment and management; the provision of environmental advisors to help government officials assess the environmental impacts that might be expected to arise from projects, programmes or policies and to inform decision-makers and the public of reasonable alternatives which would mitigate negative environmental impacts and enhance the quality of the human environment in the affected area. Private and non-governmental organisations might be supported to strengthen environmental awareness among local populations.