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J Environ Manage. 2016 Sep 15;180:485-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.05.079. Epub 2016 Jun 7.

Advances and challenges of incorporating ecosystem services into impact assessment.

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Dep. Mining and Petroleum Engineering, Escola Politécnica, University of São Paulo, Brazil.
Dep. Mining and Petroleum Engineering, Escola Politécnica, University of São Paulo, Brazil. Electronic address:


An ecosystem services approach (ESA) to assess the environmental and social impacts of projects is a conceptual innovation that contributes to overcome two widely acknowledged deficiencies of impact assessment (IA): integration of knowledge areas and participation of affected communities. This potential was demonstrated through a practical application to a large mining project, showing evidence of advances in relation to current practice and identifying challenges. Data was obtained from the environmental impact study of the reviewed project and its supplements; additional data to fulfill the needs of the ESA were collected using rapid appraisal techniques. Results show that the ESA provides: (i) a more effective scoping; (ii) a contribution to delimitate the study area; (iii) a more detailed identification of impacts; (iv) a determination of significance inclusive of the perspective of affected communities; (v) a design of mitigation focused on human well-being. The challenges of using the ESA fall into two groups: the limitations inherent to the concept and those that can be overcome by furthering research and advancing practical applications. This research added evidence to previous studies showing that incorporating ecosystem services into IA can improve practice.


Beneficiaries; Ecosystem services approach; Environmental and social impact assessment; Iron ore; Mining; Social impacts

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