Research Handbooks on Impact Assessment series
Edited by Davide Geneletti
Chapter 1: Introduction
Impact assessment is the ‘the process of identifying the future consequences of a current or proposed action’ (IAIA, 2009). At its heart, impact assessment aims to provide information for decision-making. Biodiversity underpins the delivery of ecosystem services that are fundamental for our well-being. Integrative impact frameworks are being proposed to include the effects of development on ecosystem services and human well-being, along with more traditional biodiversity conservation issues. Recent research and practice has shown the emerging interest in this area, but also the many open challenges. This Handbook addresses the consideration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in impact assessment by providing a critical analysis of some of the latest research and practice in this field. The book was written to support researchers and practitioners in the conceptual development, and operational implementation of truly biodiversity and ecosystem services–inclusive impact assessment processes. As part of the Research Handbooks on Impact Assessment series, the book provides a critical assessment of the research and thinking in this field, emerging from different parts of the world. The case studies presented in the chapters span the five continents, and a broad range of sectors and biomes. The Handbook is divided into four parts. Part I looks at how biodiversity and ecosystem services information can be mainstreamed in different impact assessment types to improve their salience and effectiveness. Part II presents a range of applications in key policy and planning sectors. Part III addresses selected issues and challenges in contemporary practice and research. Part IV summarizes the key messages and provides indications on the way forward.