IAIA facilitates scientific information about protected species, habitats and sites to support the Environmental Impact Assessment of future projects.
The project aims to connect the Catalan administration officers in charge to perform the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of future projects and the biodiversity information stored by the unit responsible of natural heritage conservation. To save bureaucracy and time the CTFC (a research centre) collaborated with these governmental units developing the Tool of supporting Information for EIA (tool's Catalan acronym: IAIA).
IAIA is a user-friendly online server which facilitates biodiversity information after the user defines a query specifying project type (road, urbanization, ski slope…) and location. The tool integrates information about sites location and habitats and species distribution which can be overlapped with future project’s location using a GIS scheme. This spatial information let the technicians in charge of EIA to clearly identify which species, habitats and sites are potentially impacted within a project’s area.
Moreover, IAIA translates scientific information to qualitatively estimate the likely effect on species and habitats occurring within the area impacted by a project. To do so, the tool links the threats and pressures associated to every project type with the susceptibility of the species and habitats spatially overlapped This information let users to improve the assessment using scientific based information to identify which project elements could impact on biodiversity.
IAIA’s outputs are ready-to-use, downloadable and easy to interpret.
43.000 € during the 1st& 2nd year to create the tool – (2 administration officers, 3 researchers and 1 software developer)
5.000 € per year for its maintenance (information update and servers) - (1 administration officer, 2 researchers and 1 software developer)
Evidence of success
The tool has demonstrated its ability to facilitate biodiversity information between the Catalan Government’s sections saving bureaucracy and time. Moreover, it adds interpreted scientific information supporting the assessment.
In this moment, all the officers of the Catalan Government working on EIA are IAIA users. The tool is also of interest to other Catalan Government sections and some similar tools adapted to other needs are being developed.
The main threat is the need of long-term resources to maintain and improve the tool, for frequent information update and maintenance of servers.
Furthermore, some information might be reviewed to improve impact’s interpretation and scalar mismatch between data and user needs.
Potential for learning or transfer
In Europe it is mandatory to do an Environmental Impact Assessment before projects’ approval and implementation. IAIA could be useful for all those in charge of EIA in any region because its conceptual scheme and user-friendly interface is fully transferable.
To adapt IAIA to any region, the basic information contained in the tool should be replaced by regional biodiversity data. The most elaborate process would be the translation of species and habitats pressures and threats to typical regional projects' impacts, and the identification of pressures and threats which affect species and habitats, if these are different from those now integrated into the tool.
Despite in this moment the authorities involved in BID-REX will not import IAIA in their regions, it has inspired them and the willing to import it in future exists. Moreover, there is a transferability inside Catalonia as other governmental units with biodiversity information needs are creating new tools based on IAIA.
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