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Analysis of uncertainty consideration in environmental assessment:an empirical study of Canadian EA practice

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Lees, Juliette (main author), Jaeger, Jochen A.G. (author), Gunn, Jill A.E. (author), Noble, Bram F. (author)
Online journal article
Publication Date:
Taylor & Francis
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois
Subject Term:
communication barriers, environmental communication, information needs, regulations, knowledge management, Canada (North America), uncertainties, environmental protection, assessments
22 pages., via online journal., Identifying and communicating uncertainty is core to effective environmental assessment (EA). This study evaluates the extent to which uncertainties are considered and addressed in Canadian EA practice. We reviewed the environmental protection plans, follow-up programs, and panel reports (where applicable) of 12 EAs between 1995 and 2012. The types of uncertainties and levels of disclosure varied greatly. When uncertainties were acknowledged, practitioners adopted five different approaches to address them. However, uncertainties were never discussed or addressed in depth. We found a lack of suitable terminology and consistency in how uncertainties are disclosed, reflecting the need for explicit guidance, and we present recommendations for improvement. Canadian Environmental Impact Statements are not as transparent with respect to uncertainties as they should be, and uncertainties in EA need to be better considered and communicated.