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The Environmental Impact Assessment Tourism Essay

4963 words (20 pages) Essay in Tourism

5/12/16 Tourism Reference this

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This chapter deals with the literature review which is a report of what has been published on the topic by qualified scholars. This chapter will give an insight on the environmental impact assessment, its steps, effectiveness and weaknesses, followed by the concept of biodiversity and a critical review of two articles related to the topic. Lastly it elaborates on tourism development on Ile aux Cerfs.

EIA was set up to deal with concerns about the effects that main development projects were having on the environment. It is important to know that EIA is an environment assessment tool. A very straightforward definition of EIA is that it is “a methodical procedure of identifying, predicting, analysing, evaluating and mitigating all the environmental effects a future development or activity before setting up the project” (United Nations, 2001).

The EIA also considers the natural, socio cultural and economic aspects.EIA and the important steps which need to be carried out to accomplish the assessment is covered by the ISO 14011. EIA is also the most popular and accepted instrument used to measure environmental impacts for new or planned projects (Schianetz et al.2007).

The crucial reason of why an EIA is needed is to prevent costly mistake in a project execution. These costly mistakes can arise either by the negative environmental impacts that are like to occur during the project implementation or by the alterations that are required afterwards in order to make the development environmentally suitable to government and community.

2.1.1 Concepts and Alternatives of EIA

An environmental Impact Assessment supports various concepts namely Ecotourism, Cleaner Production, Eco-labelling but the two most supported concepts are Environmental Management and Tourism Carrying Capacity (Schianetz et al. 2007).

As already mention above EIA is an environment assessment tool. There are many other tools used which can measure the impacts of the environment. Some of the tools are Sustainability indicators, Ecological footprint, Life Cycle Assessment, Strategic environmental Assessment and Environmental Auditing.

Sustainable indicators are mostly used for assessing tourism destinations. Ecological footprint (EF) assesses the extent to which human race is using and consuming nature’s resources more rapidly than they can regenerate (Schaefer et al. 2006). Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a methodological structure for calculating approximately and assessing the environmental impacts for the life cycle of a product such as the exhaustion of resources like land, water, petrol coal and other natural resources (Rebitzeret al. 2004). Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a tool that permits to put together environmental concerns along with social and economic aspect and which is also an assessment on a policy level (Dalal-Clayton, Sadler, 2005). Environmental Auditing (EA) is a tool that a company can use to identify the level of its environmental impacts, find out whether or not the company is in agreement with valid acts, rules, and the expectations of its stakeholders, and increases knowledge on how it can maintain or progress its environmental performance going forward (Mattsson and Olsson, 2001).

2.1.2 Steps for EIA

Werner (1992) had recommended that EIA can be used as a means in deciding if a project is viable and suitable, otherwise it can also be a means to plan how negative effects of an acknowledged development can be reduced.

Furthermore, Roberts and Hunter (1992) have stated that EIA steps differ from a location to another, but at the development level, there are four fundamental standards that are mostly put into practice. The four standards are as follows:

The characteristics of a development and related activities should be identified by an EIA.

The facets of the environment that will be concerned should be recognized.

The effects at the beginning and forthcoming stages should be assessed.

EIA is related about the management of the benefits and alarmed about the negative impacts that can be generated.

On the other hand, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) mentioned the different phases of an EIA as follows:

Screening

Alternatives

Preliminary Assessment

Scoping

EIA study and environmental impact statement

Review

Monitoring

Screening

Screening is carried out to assess if a development requires EIA. Its main concentration is about the effects it may have or if there are impacts that are unsure. Then eventually it will focus on the situations where environmental supervision effort may be essential. Hence EIA strategies may most of the time contain a records or schemas stipulating which projects need EIA (ex: constantly or specific situations).

Alternatives

Thinking of possible alternatives (demand, activity, place, development & aim, setting up, contribution, ‘no project’) ought to be established prior to a selection being prepared. Some developments can be particularly on site (ex: mining, extraction takes place only where there is a mineral site). In such circumstances EIA may give extra attentions on actions such as scale, justifying actions and traffic supervision. Ventures promoted by government agencies might probably consider alternative locations or routes for development rather than private segment schemes where the premature requirements to obtain options or purchase land strongly controls development spot.

Preliminary Assessment

This is where screening recommends additional evaluation is required or if there is improbability about the nature of possible effects. There is the use of quick evaluation methods although there is the presence of enough detail to discover key impacts, their extent and consequence, and assess their significance for decision making. Below are steps that will illustrate if a complete EIA is required.

Scoping

A ‘narrowing’ procedure frequently started by an ‘assessment team’ to recognize the key problems of apprehension at an early phase in the planning course of action and direct the development of conditions of reference for the EIA. It assists location selection, recognizes potential options, and evades interruption due to having to evaluate formerly unrevealed probable impacts. Scoping must engage all interested parties such as the promoter or environmental agencies and public members. The outcomes establish the scope, depth and terms of reference to be addressed within Environmental Impact Statement (below). Once the location for development has been selected, the number of problems usually diminishes and consideration to specific details is enhanced.

Main EIA Study

Building and extending the previous phases to forecast the amount and level of effects and determine their importance. A range of schemes can be used including: checklists, questionnaires and networks models. The study should include consideration of mitigating measures- assessing the action proposed/ taken to avoid or reduce current or probable negative impacts of a project. However if there are qualms to a high extent, probable serious outcomes and no justifying actions, then the proposed project ought to be abandoned. However if there are qualms that can be decreased with a more in depth studies, then a claim can be postponed until further studies.

Environmental Impact Statement

It is a complete report that states the conclusions of the EIA and is most of the time asked by law before a new venture can start.

Review

To evaluate the satisfactoriness of the EIA to decision making and think about its repercussions.

Monitoring

Supervising of project accomplishment and action, an eventually an audit of the project after its completion.

2.1.3 Effectiveness of EIA

EIA may ameliorate and provides continuous possibility on the long run for various projects. EIA has the prospect to offer the possibility to discover from know-how of comparable projects keep away from the (habitually elevated) expenses that may arise later justifying unexpected harmful and detrimental effects.

2.1.4 Weakness of EIA

Critic is a vital part of every theory, procedure tool or concept. Criticism of EIA has been debated by many authors in many studies. One of the most common critics is that EIA only considers the direct impact of a development or activity but not the addition to the rising impacts in the area, Simpson and Wall, (2000). EIA cannot be used for the assessment of whole tourism destinations but only for specific projects such as airports, eco-resorts, activity or development near the beach, Schianetz et al. (2007). EIA is also criticized as it only deals with mitigating negative impacts rather than putting the effort in increasing the positive impacts, Simpson and Wall, (2000).

However Biswas (1992a) and Hunter (1995a) have stated that steps of EIA have its deficiency. According to both authors, there is a trend that EIA concentrate more only on physical impacts and ignore social and cultural ones. EIA repeatedly concentrates on biophysical matters and where environment, social and economic features are dealt with, they are not usually included but instead EIA reports have the tendency to be illustrated as separate stages.

2.2 Biodiversity

In popular usage, the word biodiversity is often used to describe all the species living in a particular area (www.cnx.org). Considering the “particular area” in a very large scale, biodiversity is simply all the life on the planet earth. The business dictionary defines biodiversity as the “Variety and variability of microbial, plant, and animal life forms from all sources (including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems) and of the ecological complexes of which they are a part”. In the context of this particular study, biodiversity and tourism is to be studied.

The recent trend in the tourism industry has it that that nowadays more and more tourists have abandoned the famous sea, sand and sun, and tends more towards the nature based experience (www.unwto.de). A sound nature is increasingly being mentioned by tourists when they are choosing their destinations. The quality of the environment, therefore, cannot be neglected as a vital factor in the nowadays tourism trends. However, tourists go to a destination where the environment plays a key role at the destination. There is therefore an urgent need for a sustainable management programme and which tends to use natural resources in a sustainable manner. It is also to note that the year 2010 has been declared the international year if biodiversity.

2.2.1 Linking Biodiversity to Tourism

Projects have already started concerning biodiversity and tourism. The most flagrant example is in Thailand which was struck by the Tsunami in the year 2004. Issues such as energy efficiency, security of tourists and climatic changes have been set up. As stated earlier, those issues impact directly on tourism. Building on this, the “Program for Energy Efficiency” was launched Thailand to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Mauritius Island contains endemic species which are unique to the world but are plagued by massive population decrease. In the years 1500 and onwards the island was uninhabited by humans. After the landing of the Dutch, the introduction of non-native plant and animal species, biodiversity still flourishing started to be endangered. The 400 years following the first ‘altercation’ in the Mauritian’s ecosystem, population of native birds, reptiles, and trees started to decrease and threatened to become extinct. The continuous decrease in the population of the living organisms threatened the life cycle such as the reproduction process and the balance of nature.

We cannot neglect the fact that tourism has been growing and in biodiversity hotspots. Thus the quick growth in nature tourism and travel within the tourism industry for the past 2 decades, it may be said that the tourism’s growth in those high biodiversity areas is because of the one and only nature and environment found at those hotspots. The destruction of this aspect of a destination is like tearing apart the spot and this forgetting definitely about tourism in that particular area.

“Ecotourism is an idea that is threatening tourism. Defined as the ‘responsible travel to natural areas, that conserves the environment and sustains the well being of local people,’ ecotourism reformats the basic concepts behind tourism. Nature tourism is defined as travel to unspoiled places to experience and enjoy nature. Nature and adventure tourism focus on what the tourist is looking for. Ecotourism focuses on what the tourist does and the impact of this travel on both the environment and the people at the destination” (Honey 2002).

The tourism industry states that it contributes to sustainable development because ‘it has less impact on the environment than other industries’ and is based on a specific area and so the local people are more motivated to protect those resources. “Biodiversity is thus a critical component of the natural environment that tourists enjoy” (Mattus et al. 2003). In addition to resource being on the verge of ending and habitat destruction, littering and water pollution are problems, linked to the tourism industry, definitely have a bad impact for biodiversity. Littering problem is fluent in some areas, where waste collection and management is difficult. Waste disposal from cruises are sources of problems due to the fact that they only have a limited space to carry all their waste until they reach the port, and ports have limited incentive (and capacity) to accommodate those waste.

Coral reefs are at risk from tourism development. Holden(2000) states that “as well as being mined for building materials, reefs suffer from sewage runoff that stimulates the growth of algae, covering the filter-feeding corals and hindering their ability to survive.” Corals are damaged by anchors of boats from careless skippers and local people often take corals from their home habitat for sale. Again the tourist benefits is that the financing source stated by Brandon(1996) may help for finding alternative sustainable ways for the local people to earn their living and to launch training programmes to skippers and other staffs from the tourism industry.

There is an urgent need to mitigate those impacts and to promote ecotourism activities which have emerged in the years 1980s and 1990s so as to have a sound environment and to promote the tourism sector at a destination because as said, the tourism industry is going more and more towards destination with a unique biodiversity.

2.2.2 Environmental Impacts of Tourism Development

The Tourism Industry is said to be directly linked to the environment. The reason is that tourists mainly travel to be in a natural and green environment. Most of the hotels are found near the coast or on the Mountains. Many islands and countries use the environment as an attribute to promote tourism. The Maldives promote the archipelagos with the sea, sand and sun. It is also the case for the Caribbean Island which depends on its natural beauty and resources for the success of the tourism industry.

In a report “Examining the relationship between Tourism and the Environment in Barbados and St. Lucia”, by Reginald I Burke, the importance of environment to the tourism sector was clearly mentioned. However the author states that “Tourism and the supporting infrastructure that it requires pose threats to the environment particularly, the marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems as well as potable water resources”.

The positive impact of tourism on the environment is that it brings along revenue for the preservation and conservation of parks and rare animals. The tourism industry can make a significant contribution to the conservation of the destination. In fact, tourism can be a source of finance for biodiversity conservation, for example part of the entrance fee for a site goes to the conservation programme (Brandon 1996). The funds may be used in the sense that the local people can be provided with alternate jobs instead of exploiting the biodiversity for living. Tourists who visit an area may detect abnormalities in a specific area that local people, who are use to it, may not detect. Tourism can also be a way to increase awareness on the environment. Tourists are more conscious of the environmental protection before going to an area.

Tourism also impacts on the environment in a negative way. During the development phase, there is a need to cut down trees so as to be able to construct hotels and other facilities that the tourists need. With the increasing in population, land is a limited resource that needs to be well utilized. The cutting down of trees often lead to destruction of habitats of animals’ life. It has also been noted that in areas where there has been lots of infrastructural development, there is less rainfall. It is important to have a good land use land.

The tourism industry is one which produces lots of waste. These wastes are often released in the environment or the sea. The sewage system often goes directly in the sea for the resorts and the cruises. These wastes cause a degradation of the water quality and kills marine life. The coral reefs died and the beaches become vulnerable to waves leading to sand erosion.

The Red Sea, in Egypt, has always been a tourism attraction. Sherbiny et al. (2006) states that with the tourism development along the Red Sea, where there has been the development of recreational attractions and sport activities, has lead to the destruction of the “resource base” of the Red Sea.

The environment needs to be preserved because it will benefit the tourism industry and bring a lot term profit. Tour operators and hotels are trying to reduce wastage and pollution to rejuvenate the environment that has been destroyed. They opted for eco-friendly activities and sensitize the tourists before going on a site. It is very important that before implementing any development an EIA is done. The EIA will help to identify weaknesses and the impact on the environment and what can be done to reduce or even eliminate the impacts.

2.3 Case Studies

It is important, before going more in dept in a study, to look at definitions and steps but also at different cases. The EIA tool is used all around the world by developed, developing countries and islets. Therefore through several readings of previous application of the tool at a destination, some more weaknesses or even strengths of the EIA can be identified because each region is not the same and have particular resources and characteristics.

2.3.1 Evaluation of the EIA system on the Island of Mauritius and development of an environmental monitoring plan framework (T. Ramjeawon, R. Beedassy, 2004)

According to Ortolano and Shepherd (1995), Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a planning tool used to forecast and evaluate the impacts of planned projects in order to assist the decision making process. The limited natural resources of an island dictate its capacity to allow and sustain development. Islands face serious environmental problems due to their scarcity of natural resources, exposure to natural disasters, reduced areas, economic vulnerability and weakness in ecosystems. Therefore it is very important for islanders to understand and implement preventive strategies to have sustainable development.

The need to carry out an Environmental impact assessment (EIA) and to obtain an EIA license from the ministry before undertaking the project is one of the main features of the Environment Protection Act in Mauritius. EIA brought important improvements in the planning, designing and decision making process but many difficulties have been encountered in the implementation of the EIA system.

Without proper follow-up EIA can be seen as a just paper to secure a development permit rather than a mean to ensure environmental benefits and having proper environmental management. The rapid developments around the coast and lack of EIA monitoring have negative impacts on the coastal environment and this can affect the sustainable development of the tourism industry.

The EIA system was introduced in 1993; those wanting to apply for an EIA license must submit copies (15) of the EIA report to the Director of environment and to ensure about the accuracy of the report it is opened for public inspection and comments. A copy of the EIA report is distributed to concerned agencies and ministries and written feedback is requested. The Environmental Assessment unit of the department of environment organizes a site visit to assess the potential environmental implications of the proposed development.

Leu et al. (1996) introduced 9 fundamental components for an effective EIA system which are:

Environmental regulations, guidelines and policies.

Environmental administrative structure

EIA Procedure

Role of those which are involved.

Status of the EIA reports

EIA compliance monitoring and enforcement

EIA implementation

The implementation of strategic Environmental assessment

International exchanges

The 9 components were mostly followed for the evaluation of the EIA System in Mauritius. Nine hotels built during the last 5 years were selected to develop the Environmental Monitoring plan (EMP) and the EIA reports were evaluated by verifying their compliance with the official guiding principles of performing EIA.

The quality of the EIA was assessed upon the following criteria:

Baseline information

Drawings and plans

Techniques and methodology used to predict impacts

Field surveys as well as consistency in the analysis

Relevance of proposed measures

Monitoring plan of impacts

Impartiality of the contents of the EIA

In the last 15 years much has been achieved in establishing legal and institutional framework in terms of environmental management in Mauritius. However most of the existing environmental laws are improperly enforced due to a lack of awareness of the laws and a lack of capacity and resources in the government departments.

The following weaknesses were identified in the EIA process:

The screening system is not adequate

The minimum range of requirements of the EIA is too general to ensure the proper gathering of information for decision making process of whether or not to issue and EIA license.

There is poor public participation in the project from the beginning till the implementation phase.

There is a lack of clear criteria for the registration of eligible consultants for the preparation of an EIA report.

The procedures for reviewing EIA and granting licenses lack in transparency and liability and there is no time frame regarding EIA applications.

There is a lack of strategic environmental assessment for coastal development in particular areas.

There is a lack of trained staff and expertise to conduct as well as review EIAs.

The EIA reports do not include environmental management plans.

One of the major assets of the tourism industry which is the lagoon is being left apart and there are no or insufficient investigations carried out on the attributes of the lagoon.

More weight is being given to the economin impacts in the final decision making process and there is lack of information in the EIA reports.

2.3.2 A Critical Review of Environmental Impact Statements in Sri Lanka with Particular Reference to Ecological Impact Assessment (Miriya Samarakoon Æ John S. Rowan, 2008)

EIA is a tool used to predict environmental consequences of proposed project in order to achieve sustainable development. According to Treweek (1996) Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is an important element of EIA which explores how the sensitivity, viability and value of habitats, ecosystems and species can be affected by developments. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is an official report about the results of EcIA and EIA.

EIA has been criticized for the following reasons:

Lack of time and funding

Lack of research design

Insufficient data on flora and fauna

Failure in monitoring development impacts

Lack of guidelines on the EcIA process

The first EIA in Sri Lanka was conducted in 1980 and the legal framework is under the National Environment Regulations No.1 of the National Environment Act (NEA). There are 2 levels of EA which are stated in the NEA. The first level is the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) which is required when less adverse impact is expected and the second level is the EIA for developments where significant adverse impacts are expected.

The Central Environment Authority (CEA) is the institution which is responsible for monitoring and managing the EA process and the Project Approving Agencies (PAAs) are responsible for the implementation of the EA process as well as the decision making process.

Sri Lanka is well-known for its biodiversity and 5 levels of ecological surveying are recognized. Level 1 survey is about a brief overview of the ecology at the site and level 5 is the most complex level which is about collecting quantitative data on various key attributes of ecology. EA’s must pay special attention to their assessment and effective measures must be taken so as to avoid potential negative impacts.

2.4 Overview of Tourism Industry

Tourism is the world’s largest growth industry. Organization such as the world tourism organization state that in the next 15 years the number of tourist will increase from 845 million in 2006 to 1.6 billion by 2020 that is it will double.

Furthermore 200m people are employs worldwide. These jobs very often occur in small or medium-sized, family-owned enterprises. Similarly these tourism jobs and development very often take place in fewer developing countries that will help to balance economic opportunities. For example in order to benefit from balance economic opportunities Mauritius which is an underdeveloped country is aiming 2m tourist by 2015.

2.4.1 Tourism development in Mauritius

Tourism developments in Mauritius are based mainly on the 3s that is sea, sun and sand. By relying on the 3s, this causes the tourists being kept within the four walls of the luxurious hotels. Luxurious hotel is one of the major tourism developments in Mauritius. Larger international company such as Sun Resort Ltd has constructed luxurious and glamour hotels such as “Le Touessrock Hotel”, “La Pirogue Hotel” and “Long Beach Hotel”. Nowadays Mauritius has diversified their tourism product and services in order to attain the 2 million tourists by 2015. Mauritius is offering adventure tourism that is soft tourism and hard tourism. Furthermore the government is practicing responsible tourism and sustainable tourism. The government is also allowing tourism development on our islets such as Ile aux Cerfs.

2.4.2 Topography of Ile aux Cerf

Our selected area to carry out the EIA is Ile aux Cerfs. It is a tourism development site and each day there are different sea activities that take place on the islet. Ile aux Cerf welcomes the Mauritian people as well as the tourists. With the introduction of sustainable development and Maurice Ile Durable, it is important to know what the impacts of these developments on Ile aux Cerf. The EIA will help to achieve our aim.

Ile aux Cerf, situated in the east coast of Mauritius, is a stunning and naturally splendid islet. This small paradise constitutes about 100 hectares of soil. It is also known as the deer island and is recognized as having the best beach of the Indian Ocean. Ile aux Cerfs is not a residential area. Everyday tourists as well as locals visit the island. To reach the island, boats are available from Trou D’eau Douce, a small village found in the east. It takes around ten minutes to reach the island. Tourism developments have taken place in the island making it a must see place to visit. In the past years, the island has become among the most well known tourist attractions.

2.4.3 Tourism Development on Ile aux Cerfs

Ile aux Cerfs is an islet found in the east of Mauritius. Many people describe Ile aux Cerfs as a mini Eden where you can relax and spend nice time with family and friends. One of the main tourism developments in Ile aux Cerfs is the golf course and the sun group made this plan public in july 1998. The project consists of an eighteen-hole course and clubhouse. From the environment impact assessment report made previously on the islet it appears that the golf course covers an area of 40 hectares.

Furthermore the Touessrok hotel is another tourism development that relies heavily on the Ile aux Cerfs. It is situated near the islet. The management of the Touessrok hotel is the one which managed the golf course on the islet. Touessrok hotel is a five stars plus well-known hotel throughout the world. More other another tourism development on Ile aux Cerf is the Paul & Virginie Restaurant, which is again managed by the management of the Touessrok hotel. Located on the islet, the restaurant’s relaxing beachside setting, is perfect for a family lunch of fish, pizza and Mauritian dishes (http//:www.elegantresorts.co.uk). There are also a lot of tourism activities that take place on the islet. These activities are mainly sea activities that are provided by tour operators such as Happy Holidays Mauritius. Examples of these activities are speed zone, Rampage, Big Banana, Frequent flyer, Duo Patriot and parasailing (http//:www.happy.holidays.mu).

Therefore these are some tourism development that occur in Mauritius and especially on the islet of “ile aux cerfs”.

2.5 Conclusion

As we have seen before development can have negative impacts on the environment and therefore an EIA is required before the undertaking of any development be it tourism or non-tourism development in order to identify potential environmental impacts and find out strategies to minimize the negative impacts. However the EIA should be well-done and ways should be found to overcome the weaknesses of the EIA so that the report is an effective one and can help in minimizing environmental impacts.

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