By Dr. (Mrs.) Ajantha Perera,
Development is a must for all nations. Every Leader of a nation strives to bring about economic growth on behalf of the people of the nation. Every citizen hopes for better housing, more comforts, better education and longer life span. Therefore development cannot be brought to a halt. Environmental Management is the subject which generally counteracts with the development works. Yet, in reality the subject of Environmental Management and Economic development strategies must go hand in hand. This is the top priority of a country.
Environmental Impact Assessment is one of the tools, which is used for this purpose. Environmental Impact Assessment is a report which, looks into the possible impacts of the developmental program on the existing environment of the site proposed for development, thereby seeks possible ways of mitigating the negative impacts on the resources of the site. While opting for the possible remedial measures one also should pay special attention to the cost of the remedial measure. The cost of the remedial measure can make the project non-viable. If however the cost of the mitigation measures seems to be too high then the option of alternative sites or alternative technology can be brought in.
Teaching students on Environmental impact Assessment and giving practical experience in the subject is top priority of the Department of Environmental Science of the Fiji National University. There are many cadre vacancies in Government institutions for Environmental Managers, hence FNU hopes to assist the country to fill these vacancies and strengthen the environmental capabilities of the nation.
Environmental Impact Assessment needs to be taken seriously for sustainable management of the natural resources. For all developmental projects an efficient monitoring program needs to be done. This too cannot be fulfilled unless manpower is available. Therefore all officers involved in developmental activities must be given training on monitoring of the developmental projects.
As much as a country needs to develop for its citizens to be prosperous and content, the natural resources of the country too must be protected to ensure a healthy life. So both economic growth and Protection of the environment has to happen. The only bridge that can strengthen their harmony is the environmental education given to the younger generations of the country.
Editor’s note: Dr. Ajantha Perera, is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Environmental Science, of Fiji National University