Table of Contents

New Directions in Social Impact Assessment

New Directions in Social Impact Assessment

Conceptual and Methodological Advances

Edited by Frank Vanclay and Ana Maria Esteves

This important new book outlines current developments in thinking in the field of Social Impact Assessment (SIA). It advances the theory and practice of SIA, and argues that a dramatic shift is required in the way socioeconomic studies and community participation is undertaken. The book emphasizes that, much more than the act of predicting impacts in a regulatory context, SIA needs to be the process of managing the social aspects of development and that there needs to be a holistic and integrated approach to impact assessment. It stresses that greater attention needs to be given to ensuring that the goals of development are attained and enhanced.

Chapter 10: Land Use Change

Jacki Schirmer

Subjects: economics and finance, valuation, environment, environmental sociology, research methods in the environment, valuation, geography, human geography, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, sociology and sociological theory, urban and regional studies, regional studies


Jacki Schirmer Introduction Social impact assessment (SIA) has traditionally focused on the assessment of planned interventions implemented over relatively limited space and time. Since its inception, however, SIA has been applied to an ever-increasing range of situations which also include assessing the impacts of diffuse changes occurring across large geographic areas and over long time periods. The focus of SIA has also shifted to emphasize participatory, collaborative approaches to assessing impacts rather than more data-driven, technocratic approaches (Vanclay, 2006). Rural land use change is a typical example of the new terrain to which SIA is being applied. Changes in rural land use, such as a shift from using land for traditional agriculture to establishing tree plantations or building residential housing, occur over decades, in a patchwork fashion, and have diffuse and contended impacts. These land use changes are not generally planned interventions, but ad hoc social trends that result in significant social change without necessarily being the result of specific policies or projects. This raises important questions for SIA practitioners. Can methods developed principally to assess the impact of single projects implemented at a single point in space and in time be applied to more diffuse and unplanned changes such as rural land use change? How can methods be modified to successfully assess social impacts in these increasingly common applications of SIA? This chapter discusses some of the methodological challenges presented when assessing the social impacts of diffuse, unplanned changes, using the example of land use change to tree plantations....

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