Environmental Impact Assessment

Luis Enrique Sánchez

Studies to evaluate environmental impacts are more important than ever, for entrepreneurs and official organizations that license economic activities, while environmental awareness grows in modern society and decisions must be made based on serious technical studies.

Currently a bestseller in Brazil, this is a textbook and reference book that helps both students and practitioners involved with these studies.

Combining clarity and theoretical accuracy, the book presents and analyses the several tasks in environmental studies preparation. It links technology to a legal context, always referring back to the best international practices standards.

Thirty two case stories at Brazilian and international sites enrich this work by bringing together examples such as hydroelectric plants, mining and transportation systems.

Environmental Impact Assessment: concepts and methods is as much a learning tool to the student as it is a useful tool to the professional. It is an excellent reference source. Technical licensing organs and environmental planning officials will find plenty of materials for reference and reflection.

The new Spanish edition brings updated information, as well as new studies, laws and examples specifically for Latin America.

Original title
Avaliação de impacto ambiental
Year of publication

About the authors

Luis Enrique Sánchez

Luis Sánchez is a Mining Engineer and a Geographer. He holds a PhD in Natural Resources and Development Economics from the School of Mines, Paris. Currently he is a professor at University of São Paulo, and a consultant on the preparation and review of environmental impact evaluations. He has been elected in 2011 president of the International Association for Impact Assessment.

Author's CV.

1. Concepts and definitions

1.1 Environment

1.2 Culture and cultural patrimony

1.3 Pollution

1.4 Environmental degradation

1.5 Environmental impact

1.6 Environmental aspect

1.7 Environmental processes

1.8 Environmental Impact Evaluation

1.9 Environmental Recovery

1.10 Summary


2. Origin and diffusion of environmental impact evaluation

2.1 Origins

2.2 International diffusion: developed countries

2.3 International diffusion: developing countries

2.4 The EIA in international treaties

2.5 EIA in Brazil


3. The legal and institutional framework of EIA in Brazil

3.1 A brief history

3.2 Environment licensing

3.3 Neighborhood impact

3.4 The whole picture


4. The process of environmental impact assessment and its aims

4.1 The aims of EIA

4.2 The planning of the EIA process

4.3 The main stages of the process

4.4 The EIA process in Brazil

4.5 The EIA process in other countries


5. Sorting Stage

5.1 What is a significant impact?

5.2 Rules and procedures for sorting out

5.3 Preliminary studies in some selected jurisdictions

5.4 Summary


6. Determining the study scope and formulation of alternatives

6.1 Range and scope determination of an environmental impact study

6.2 History

6.3 Public participation in this process stage

6.4 Reference terms

6.5 Guidelines for relevant issues identification

6.6 The formulation of alternative

6.7 Summary and problematic


7. Planning and development steps of an environmental impact study

7.1 Two contradictory views in realization of an environmental impact study

7.2 Key activities in the preparation of an environmental impact study

7.3 Cost of the study and the environmental impact assessment process

7.4 Summary


8. Impact identification

8.1 Formulating hypotheses

8.2 Cause identification: actions or human activities

8.3 Consequences description: aspects and environmental impacts

8.4 Cumulative impacts

8.5 Tools

8.6 Integration

8.7 Summary


9. Basic studies

9.1 Fundamentals

9.2 Affected environment knowledge

9.3 Planning the studies

9.4 Content and basic studies approaches

9.5 Description and analysis


10. Impacts forecast

10.1 Planning the impacts forecast

10.2 Impacts indicators

10.3 Impacts predicting methods

10.4 Uncertainties and forecasting errors

10.5 Influence area


11. Evaluating the impacts importance

11.1 Important rules

11.2 Aggregation methods

11.3 Analysis and comparison of alternatives


12. Risk analysis

12.1 Types of environmental risks

12.2 A long history of technological accidents

12.3 Definitions

12.4 Studies of risk analyses

12.5 Tools for risk analysis

12.6 Risk perception


13. Environmental Management Plan

13.1 Components of a management plan

13.2 Mitigating measures

13.3 Risk prevention and emergencies response

13.4 Compensatory measures

13.5 Resettlement of human populations

13.6 Value measures of beneficial impacts

13.7 Further or additional studies

13.8 Monitoring plan

13.9 Training and management measures

13.10 structure and content of an environmental management plan


14. Communication of results

14.1 Readers’ interest

14.2 Objectives, content and the media

14.3 Common communication lacks in technical reports

14.4 Simple solutions to reduce the noise in written communication

14.5 Maps, plans and drawings

14.6 Communication with the public


15. Technical analysis of environmental studies

15.1 Fundamentals

15.2 The quality problem in environmental studies

15.3 Tools for environmental studies analysis and evaluation

15.4 Regards from the public and the technical analysis conclusions


16. Public participation

16.1 The expansion of the human rights concept

16.2 The various degrees of public participation

16.3 Public consultation objectives

16.4 Public consultation formats

16.5 Procedures for public consultation in some jurisdictions

16.6 The volunteer public consultation


17. Decision-making in the process of environmental impact assessment

17.1 Decision-making arrangements

17.2 Decision model in Brazil

17.3 Technical or political decision?

17.4 Negotiations

17.5 Control mechanisms


18. The follow-up step in the environmental impact assessment process

18.1 The importance of the monitoring stage

18.2 Monitoring instruments

18.3 Monitoring arrangements

18.4 Integration between planning and management



Appendix A

Appendix B



Taking twenty years to write a book may sound like an awful long time. It is no exaggeration to say that I started writing it in July 1985, in a cold and grey summer in the also grey Aberdeen, on the east coast of Scotland. It had been a long journey from Paris done by bus, boat, train, and car because at that time I needed to save money. The Center for Environmental Management and Planning – CEMP at the University of Aberdeen was recognized by its international seminar of two weeks which each year-always in the summer – gathered experts from various countries for lectures, discussions and exercises on environmental impact assessment. It was a golden opportunity for those who in a few months were about to begin a PhD on the subject. Thanks to the intervention of my friend Elizabeth Monosowski, who in that year was a lecturer, the organizers (Ron Bisset, Paul Tomlinson and Brian Clark) agreed to give me a full scholarship; however, I'd have to provide for board and food by my own means.

The first embryo of a book only came to be in 1998 when I began to teach a course on environmental impact assessment in Pece, the Continuing Education Program at the Polytechnic School of USP. There was the need to prepare a handout, which I did and it was quite slender in its first year. In the second year on it grew fatter and fetter. The night school specialization course students had a different profile from the students in the academic graduation course. For the latter, I´d outline a vast bibliography and each one would come heads and tails if they had to, but those in the night course, they didn´t even have time to go to the library.

In the winter of Paris in February 1989, just days before my thirtieth birthday, another fact influenced the writing of this book. Bill Kennedy, Rémy Barré, Ignacy Sachs and Pierre-Noël Giraud, the last two my co-supervisor and supervisor, thought that " that physical object, as required by law, composed of a number of typewritten pages, which is supposed to have some relation to the discipline in which the person graduates, and do not let the examiners in a state of painful stupor, "as Umberto Eco defines a thesis, was deserving of approval. Well, I had already completed a thesis on "The roles of environmental impact studies for mining projects," thanks to several years of a scholarship from CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development).

Another motivation for a book would come with the approach of an undergraduate course. Students would not read anything scripted, I knew that. It was imperative to have a complete full handout. Then, of course that a book would be much better. Friends had been telling me that for years. Why was I taking so long? Laziness? Without consulting me Rozely Ferreira dos Santos furtively delivered a copy of some version of this book to Shoshana Signer, who had the founded an innovative publishing house and was interested – to my amazement - in texts for professionals and students, and the environment was one of her favorite subjects. From then on I could no longer escape the duty. I gave my word that I´d deliver a complete text; but I negotiated a stretch in the time frame, though.

Back in São Paulo, after my doctorate, there was good demand for environmental impact studies, and fortunately I was able to quickly start working in the field. However, my interest was more in the academic life and I submitted a work based on my thesis for a symposium organized by Sergio Medici Eston in August 1989. From there I was invited to teach a few classes (for free) in a new discipline that the Department of Mining Engineering had created for school-seniors. Coincidentally, at that same time a spot for a new Professor was opened and, ten years after I graduated from Polytechnic School, I was back… as a Professor.

I first taught at a graduate course in Environmental impact assessment of mining projects in 1990. Since then, teaching impact assessment has become my full time job. My interest in environmental issues surfaced upon graduation, as well as from my first experiences in multidisciplinary interactions. In my first at the University I joined CEU - University Excursionist Center, where students from different major courses would gather to go hiking, climbing, diving and cave exploring. Right then and there I knew that Engineering was not going to be enough for me to deal with nature and society.