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Methods of Impact Identification, Prediction and Significance of Impacts

Matrices for Impact Identification There are several types of matrices used in Impact Identification in EIA. The simple matrix refers to a display of project actions or activities along one axis, with appropriate environmental factors listed along the other axis of the matrix. When a given action or activity is anticipated to cause a change in an environmental factor, this is noted at the intersection point in the matrix and can be further described in terms of magnitude and important considerations. Many variations of the interaction matrix have been utilized in EIA. The following table is the illustration of simple matrix.

Interaction matrix used in IEE Process

Pre-construction Project Activity Workforce Camp Land acquisition River Training Water Sharing Disilting Basin Site Clearance Water Source Embankment Pump House Construction Operation Water users Group Remarks

Resources Climate Hydrology Water Quality/Water Source Geology/Soil Topography Air and Noise Forest Wildlife Aquatic Life Biodiversity



Education Economy Gardener Issues Institutions Culture Population Health Land use



Access road







a) Leopold Matrix (LM) This method was developed by Leopold et al. (1971), and it has been used for the identification of impacts. It involves the use of a matrix with 100 specified actions and 88 environmental items. In constructing the matrix, each action and its potentiality for creating an impact on each environmental item must be considered. Where an impact is anticipated, the matrix is marked with a diagonal line in the interaction box. The second step in using the Leopold Matrix is to describe the interaction in terms of its magnitude (M) in the upper section and importance (I) in the lower section of each box. The magnitude of an interaction or impact is represented by numerical scale; it is described by the assignment of a numerical value from one to ten. The value, ten represents the largest magnitude and the value, one represents the lowest magnitude, whereas values near five represent impacts of intermediate magnitude. Assignment of a numerical value for the magnitude of an interaction is related to the extent of any change (for example, if noise levels in a village were expected to increase by 20 dB(A), this is a large increase at night and may score 8 or even 9). The scale of importance also ranges from one to ten. The higher the value, the higher the importance; the lower the value, the lower the importance. Assignment of a numerical value for importance is based on the subjective judgement of the multi-disciplinary team working on the EIA. Plus (+) or minus (-) can be used to show whether an impact is beneficial or adverse. b) Modified Graded Matrix (MGM) Lohani and Thanh (1980) used another grading system in which relative weights are assigned to each development activity. If the relative priority of development activity is determined, the total value of a particular activity is the sum of the vertical column represented by that in the matrix, multiplied by the priority value. Finally, the total value of all the interactions is the sum of all horizontal values in the matrix. This method is particularly helpful in identifying major activities and in defining areas where attention is mostly needed in the process of analysis. c) Impact Summary Matrix (ISM) An impact summary matrix can clearly identify the potential impact areas, predict the impact severity, specify the corresponding mitigation measures, and help in identification of agencies responsible for implementing mitigation measures. This kind of matrix is simple, covers all the aspects, and provides a complete overview of EIA in summary form. Additionally, it provides an easy guide for decision-makers.

An Example of a Matrix, showing Magnitude and Significance of Predicted Impacts on a Scale of 1 to 10


(Leopold methods and Methods from Lohani and Thanh)

Priority Value

Propose Action Resources

Immigration of Labour 5 8

Dam Construction

Transmission line

Reservoir Filling

Heavy Metal Discharge 4 7 3

Growth of Aquatic Weeds 6 6

Relocation of Inhabitants

Total Leopold Method 24 35 14 608 22 12 616 14 14 504 12 565 19 224 7 4 24 2 180 10 6 30 5 6 30 6 Lohani & Thanh 1680



4 6 3 4

5 8 3 6 8 8 7 6 7 6 7 7 8

8 7 6 5 4 3 9 1 2

Biodiversity Archaological Artifacts Tourism Downstream Water Pollution Social and Economic Aspects Forestry Fishery Navigation Aquatic Plants Leopold Method Lohani & Thanh 9 14 64 4 6

5 7 5

2 4 8 7

16 8

4 2 2 5 6 5 6 6 20 24 103 42 7 6 286 42 47 67 11 23 61 11 11 56 8 7 2 5

Environmental Impact Summary Matrix of Arun III Hydropower Project Part of Impact Summary Matrix

Resources/Project Activity


Impact Prediction Magnitude Extent Duration



Microclimate 1. Reservoir operation 2. Vegetation/forest removal Changes in temperature humidity Change in temperature humidity L L L L L S None required (see text), Protection of vegetation on southfacing slope Avoid or minimise to absolutely necessary extent dump sites in forested area; Replace adit road with shorter roads; Combine adit and powerhouse construction camps; Evaluate alternatives to dam sites access road; Implement ground cover/erosion protection/ revegetation measures. Air Quality 1. Vehicle emissions Increase of air pollution; possible health hazard L L S Reduce travel distances by placing construction camps close to work areas; replace adit road with shorter areas; Eliminate spoil dumps and associated travel to the extent possible; Engines to comply with international standards for exhaust gases; Maintenance of engines and exhaust gas check; Dust control with water in dry season, 2. Road dust Increase of airborne dust during dry season L L S Reduce distances between camps and work areas: Black top heavily used area: Breathing protection; 3. Indirect Impacts Finflux of 2-3000 job seekers and small entrepreneurs; uncontrolled settlement M L S Regulation of settlement on public and private land. DOR/SWK JV/Contractor JV/Contractor HMG JV/Contractor

DOR/SWK; JV/Contractor DOR/SWK JV/Contractor


Contractor Contractor JV/Contractor Contractor Contractor HMG

Socio-Economic and Cultural 1. Project Construction Loss of arable land H L L Intensity production on remaining land; Reclaim arable land after construction; Loss of forest resources L L L Control deforestation: Forest conservation and development programme. HMG/Project JV/Contractor HMG HMG/Project

Displacement of approx. 144 families; interruption of normal farming activities

Minimise project and requirements;


Compensation and rehabilitation programme; Intensify production on remaining land; Provide skill training for employment on construction. Requirement of additional food for local people, workforce and immigrants M L S Encourage production of crops and livestock products for sale to workforce and other outlets; Contractor to provide logistics for his workforce. Requirement of additional fuel supplies M L S Contractor to provide kerosene and electricity to workforce, limit use of local fuelwood. Prohibit unauthorised felling of trees and use of open fire; Forestry development programme Disruption of traditional social and cultural patterns by large-scale immigration M L Training and strengthening of the capacity of VDCs Limited work contracts for nonindigenous labour. HMG/Project Contractor HMG/Project

JV/Contractor Contractor

JV/Contractor HMG/Project HMG/Project


Key Magnitude H = High M = Moderate L = Low Extent L = Local R = Regional N = National Duration L = Long-term (over 20 years) M = Medium-term(Over 10 years) S = Short-term (Below 10 years) JV = Joint Venture Arun III DOR = Department of Road SWK = Scot Wilson Kirkpatrick (Road Consultant) HMG = His Majestys Government of Nepal

I = International NEA = Nepal Electricity Authority