Biophysical environmental impact identification, prediction and Determination of significance: A review of the Zimbabwean case

Mercy Mudzingwa, B Munyai, J Maviya, R Chirozva


This paper provides a review of the methods and approaches being employed in the Environmental Impact Assessment
(E.I.A) process in Zimbabwe for impact identification, predication and determination of significance. Given that it is
more than 10 years since the formal E.I.A. process was established in Zimbabwe and that to date several E.IAs have been
conducted, with a variety of approaches being employed, a review of these critical stages of the E.I.A. process was therefore
necessary so as to reflect on strengths and weaknesses of the current practices. The review was based on the E.I.A
reports submitted to the review authority in Mashonaland West province between 2000 and 2005. The E.I.A reports were
analysed for methodologies and approaches being used for impact identification, predication and determination of significance.
Results from the analysis of the reports were then compared against the standard practice as presented in
literature. Professional judgment with limited public consultation is the main approach being employed in impact predication
and determination of significance. The predication of impact is based on a limited number of impact descriptors,
which are referred to inconsistently. It is concluded that the stage of impact identification, predication and determination
of significance is not adequately addressed in the reports. The paper recommends that a minimum number of impact
descriptors be made a requirement and that scaling, weighting and aggregating of impact descriptors be used to determine
impact significance.

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