EIA is a process not set in stone. It is growing, ever-changing. Each new study comes up with different challenges, different situations. And each of them, need to be tackled a tad bit differently.
Therefore, the more creative you can be, the more permutations and combinations you can come up with to identify how a particular aspect of the project can affect the environment. Let’s take an example.
Each developmental project comes with it, huge machinery. And machines produce noise. This noise can have multiple repercussions, like-
- First of all, the effect of noise will depend on how much noise was there in the area in the first place. If your project site is a delta, you would expect noise levels to be high anyway, with the wind and the waves and the trees howling and growling. These are natural noise producing agents, something that the local ecosystem is already accustomed to. A project which thus produces a moderate amount of noise (like hammering etc.) can proceed with no problem. However, if your site is a virgin forest (as is often the case in mining or road construction), the noise from machinery can be very disturbing.
- Noise can have an impact on the growth of plants and trees in the area. And so, every living beings dependent on these plants for survival (even beetles and butterflies) will suffer. For example, if growth of plants is disturbed, their life cycle is disturbed. They may not produce new leaves in time, or the size of the leaves will drastically reduce. So, the beetles that feed on these leaves will have less or no food at all.
- Noise can alter movement patterns of animals. It is highly likely that local animals will be driven away.
- If the plants and animals can be affected, so can the non-living things in an area. Noise producing machines can trigger vibrations that travel on and into the ground. The soil structure can be disturbed.
- Groundwater flow can be disrupted.
- Very high levels of noise produce huge vibrations which in an area with a fault or a slope can trigger landslides and in extreme cases, even earthquakes (These are some indirect effects).
- It can affect the local population. I for one, know how disturbing this can be, since I used to live in a place where metro/flyover construction was always going on. Very young children can go deaf. It can drastically increase stress levels. Aesthetic disturbances are bound to happen.
These are just some of the effects noise and noise producing machinery can have (This is all I could come up with. Give it a shot, try and come up with other ways in which noise might affect an ecosystem).
Like I said, the more creative you can be, the more impacts you can predict. It certainly helps if you have had past experiences, or if you are required to do this on a regular basis. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that in such a scientific process, you are required to be so creative. You are required to think divergently. Instead of arriving at one correct answer, you try to find as many answers as you can. In today’s world, where convergent thinking reigns supreme (every test or exam you have ever given requires you to come to one correct answer. There can be no 2 answers that are both correct. This is the case especially in schools) I find this absolutely refreshing.