Environmental Assessment, Planning and Management

Multiple stresses affect our planet’s ecosystems. Senior decision-makers and environmental managers, particularly in developing countries, are faced with enormous challenges as they address existing pollution problems and attempt to protect the environment from the stresses of urban, industrial, and rural development. With 30 years of global experience, ESSA understands these challenges and has become renowned for designing creative solutions and approaches to environmental problems associated with development and resource depletion. We address both bio-physical and human dimensions of environmental problems, whether we are developing scientifically defensible impact assessments, tackling broad-scale planning and policy issues, or building analytical tools for impact prediction and resource management. Our experienced specialists work with clients to assess needs, design appropriate tools and training, conduct analyses, generate information, and develop plans that will support sustainable development objectives. Our participatory approach to problem-solving ensures the results will be effective and meet real needs. Our Environmental Assessment services include:

Our Environmental Planning and Management services include:

First Nations Environment and Resource Management

ESSA’s multi-disciplinary team provides a complete range of environmental management services for First Nations. We combine expertise in environmental management with international experience in capacity development. We work closely with Band Councils to integrate technical expertise with traditional knowledge in an environment of respect for the cultural values. We use a holistic, participatory approach to analyse environmental issues, work towards a common understanding of options, and build new skills for a better future.

Indicators and Environmental Reporting

Environmental reporting is used by organizations for a range of purposes: to document outcomes of environmental management policy and practices, to track progress towards environmental goals, or to record ambient environmental conditions. When done at regular intervals it provides a mechanism to document changes over time and longer-term trends. It provides a way for organizations (including governments and businesses) to be more accountable to their constituents. Good environmental reporting requires good environmental indicators—chosen according to rigorous selection criteria, presented with the appropriate reference measures (e.g. baselines or targets), and accompanied by the necessary caveats and supporting documentation. ESSA has provided leadership in indicators and environmental reporting projects for over a decade. Our indicators and environmental reporting team possesses dual expertise in process and content. This combination makes it possible for ESSA to produce environment reports that are scientifically rigorous, convey an understanding of ecosystem dynamics, and use clear and effective means of communication for the end user groups—be they managers, students, government policy makers or the general public. We have particular skill in translating scientific/technical information for non-technical audiences. One of our areas of expertise within this domain is State of Environment Reporting (SOER). Our team has worked on over fifteen SOER projects in six countries, with products ranging from videos to book-style reports and more concise indicator bulletins. Each product is carefully tailored for the purpose and audience. The services we offer clients in the domain of indicators and environmental reporting include:

  • environmental indicator identification and selection;
  • environmental report (including SOER) design, development, and production;
  • training in environmental reporting; and
  • strategic guidance for environmental indicator monitoring and reporting programs.

Policy and Regulatory Support

ESSA has been assisting provincial, state and national agencies with the development and application of environmental policy and regulations in North America for over 15 years. The breadth of our professional staff in the natural and social sciences combined with our skills in adaptive environmental management, ecological modelling, and facilitation/mediation allow us to work closely with agencies in the articulation and evaluation of new and existing policy and regulations for environment management and protection. In Canada clients that have retained our assistance are the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (formerly the FEARO), Federal Departments of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Environment (DOE), Ontario Ministries of Natural Resources (OMNR) and Environment (OMOE), and Ontario Power Generation (formerly Ontario Hydro). Example work products are revisions to the Fisheries Act, re-development of national and provincial class environment assessment protocols, articulation of cumulative effects assessment methods, and evaluation of environmental effects monitoring programs of power plants. Section 316B of US Clean Water ActRecently ESSA has been assisting State Departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation with the evaluation of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit applications for electric power generation stations and other industries that withdraw ambient cooling water for industrial processes. The NDPES serves section 316b of the Clean Water Act, which ensures that best technology available (BTA) is used at cooling water intakes to minimize entrainment and impingement of aquatic biota, and that the costs of BTA are not disproportionate with the benefits. At arms length, ESSA’s multidisciplinary team provides the expertise required to evaluate assessments of:

  • effectiveness of BTA to reduce entrainment and impingement at cooling water intakes;
  • the costs, benefits, and safety issues associated with BTA; and
  • the fisheries and aquatic ecosystem effects of entrainment and impingement.

As of April 2002, ESSA has assisted the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut with their evaluations of NPDES permit applications.

Social Dimensions

ESSA strives to provide an integrated approach to our work. Our team comprises social and environmental specialists who work together to ensure that social considerations are included in our environment projects. In designing and implementing projects, we use participatory methods and tools to ensure broad stakeholder participation in all stages of the project lifecycle. Our main areas of expertise are:

  • integration of gender issues
  • social impact assessment
  • public participation
  • social assessment and analysis
  • resettlement

Our services include:

  • training in gender and development and community participation;
  • working with communities to develop and implement community action plans;
  • mainstreaming gender into project activities;
  • gender analysis;
  • conducting social impact assessments
  • beneficiary and stakeholder analysis
  • needs assessments
  • socio-economic profiles
  • livelihood analysis and planning
  • poverty assessments
  • awareness raising

Selected Projects