Improving the Performance of Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines by Integrating the Ecosystem Services Approach (Case Study: Road and Railway Projects)
Article Type:
Case Study (دارای رتبه معتبر)
Background and purpose

This planet has a complex and interconnected system the advancement of technology and the increase in population growth and the change in human lifestyle has caused the growth of human activities and put pressure on the power of the biosphere. Social and economic development directly relates to the sustainable management of natural resources. Improper use has caused the ecosystem to deteriorate gradually, and governments have been forced to invest in natural infrastructure to replace the ecosystem services destroyed due to the project's construction. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been declared one of the essential tools for managing and protecting the environment and ensuring the sustainable development of the planning system. Unfortunately, the most important issue to be considered is the achievement of economic profit from the project in question. The result of such growth and development is the emergence of consequences such as water and soil, erosion, destruction of forests, reduction of biological diversity, destruction of the ozone layer, climate change, and data resources. Due to the lack of proper performance, lack of consideration for monetary value, and lack of attention to ecosystem services, the decisions made to reject or review projects often need to be more accurate and practical. This research aims to create a methodological guide integrating ES in EIA. This new and practical work is significant for road and railway projects. Because these projects are built on a very large scale and in addition to destroying a part of the ecosystem, they prevent the movement of animals in the ecology nest. In the long term, this will reduce biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Materials and methods

In this applied research, the implementation process and solutions to eliminate the executive directive's shortcomings in assessing the environmental effects of road and railway projects have been investigated using library studies. A questionnaire was designed to survey executive experts and teachers in this field based on the weaknesses, strengths, threats, and opportunities. The number of people in question was determined using the Delphi method. A questionnaire was collected among 30 experts with more than 5 years of experience in this field and analyzed by Excel software.

Findings and Discussion

 The results have been analyzed using the SWOT technique to identify and analyze the threats and opportunities in the external environment of the Environmental Protection Organization, as well as the internal strengths and weaknesses of the organization. The matrix obtained in the house is considered weaknesses and opportunities, so compatibility should be used in the form of efforts to reduce weaknesses, including lack of specialized guidelines for each project, prioritizing economic conditions and the needs of the current generation, investigating environmental factors separately without considering the ecological relationship, etc., as well as making the most of available opportunities. Through the investigations, it was concluded that there are major gaps in implementing the environmental impact assessment directive in Iran, one of the most important of which is the quality results of this directive and its lack of specialization for each project. Due to the lack of appropriate executive structure, lack of calendar to monetary value, and lack of attention to ecosystem services, the decisions taken to reject or approve projects often need to be more accurate and practical.


 The results show that the weaknesses and threats of the evaluation guidelines are clear, and one of the best solutions is to quantify the evaluation results in addition to the specialization of the guidelines. On the other hand, devaluing ecosystem services has been understood by experts, and a new approach is needed in the country. In the end, it is suggested that specific guidelines for environmental impact assessment should be developed for each project. Legal valuation policies should be developed in the evaluation guidelines, as well as corrective measures such as changing environmental impact assessment criteria and indicators, using the specialized and private sectors, and informing managers and policymakers of the importance of Ecosystem services, the establishment of the National Environmental Fund in order to allocate consulting fees and support consultants in order to build trust should be applied in the evaluation guidelines.

نشریه توسعه پایدار محیط جغرافیایی, Volume:4 Issue: 7, 2023
142 to 157  
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