Treatment of ecological connectivity in environmental assessment: A global survey of current practices and common issues
Patterson, C., Torres, A., Coroi, M., Cumming, K., Hanson, M., Noble, B., Tabor, G., Treweek, J., Jaeger, J.A.G. (2022): Treatment of ecological connectivity in environmental assessment: A global survey of current practices and common issues. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, in press. https://doi.org/10.1080/14615517.2022.2099728
Ecological connectivity should be an important consideration in environmental assessment (EA). How often and how thoroughly the analysis of ecological connectivity is integrated in the EA process is, however, unknown. We surveyed EA actors and stakeholders regarding their perceptions of, and experiences with, connectivity analysis in the context of EA. 134 practitioners, regulators, consultants, researchers, and interest groups from all inhabited continents participated. Over 72% of respondents stated that ecological connectivity should always be considered; however, it is often considered too late in the EA process, at a scale of analysis often unsuitable for capturing landscape-scale effects, and relying on overly simplistic metrics or qualitative approaches. This disparity between the availability of a range of quantitative tools and the poor consideration of connectivity in EA raises major concerns about current practice and the feasibility of connectivity analysis in project-based EA. Connectivity consideration will need to be required explicitly and supported by best-practice guidance to address the conditions that should trigger a connectivity analysis, the required types of approaches, and the kind of information required to inform decision-making.