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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

The role of environmental impact assessment in farmland reorganisation / Hailuoto Island-Finland.

Posted By: Sakari Gronlund
Date: Thursday, 9 September 1999, at 4:21 p.m.

Key words: conservation, land uplift, public participation, spatial planning.

SUSTAINABILITY AND STRENGTHENING OF LOCAL ISSUES The island has three different faces: firstly, it has unique nature values, not only on a national but also on an international scale. Secondly, the land uplift results into an interesting land use pattern and real estate structure. The land area grows significantly, which, in turn means there is a need to divide the newly arisen land to landowners equitably. The third factor results mainly from the island?s relatively isolated location from the mainland. The type of local way of life cannot be found elsewhere.


The Environmental Impact Statement deals with a planning dilemma; how to assess the impacts of a plan, which does not include detailed design drawings and therefore no detailed predictions of impacts can be made. All the actors realise that the decision to implement the plan has already been made, and the development in that direction cannot be ceased or stopped by any means. In the assessment, impacts are regarded as warning signs, and are merely transformed into potential mitigation measures than described as direct or indirect impacts. It is up to the competent authorities to ensure that enforcement will be in line with the findings of the Environmental Impact Statement. But a lot of responsibility falls to the Proponent, who will carry on with detailed design activities such as forestry road upgrading and building, and drainage of forests and fields.

The authors examined the case from the perspective of different ?schools.? In the Surveying Tradition, reorganisation is perceived as improving rational use of land resources. Here pros and cons of the project are in terms of classical economics. The Public Participation Tradition assumes that local inhabitants and interest groups should have a key role in all measures affecting their environment. The Nature Conservation Tradition has its own well known principles.


In spite of the fact that the authors are far from being objective evaluators, they tried to find the key issues for others to learn from. The National Land Survey is willing to learn how to develop its practices in Hailuoto Island and elsewhere. The Environmental Authorities need good practice examples of Strategic Environmental Assessment in Spatial Planning. And especially, the Public needs evidence that their participation has not gone by the board.


It is clear that Environmental Impact Assessment procedures cannot solve the problems of Hailuoto Island in a rapidly changing economic, social, environmental, and land use framework. At least the procedure gives an opportunity to discuss and assess the situation in a transparent and open-minded way. It may also appear that re-organisation benefits are relatively small compared against the risk of losing the traditional cultural setting. This may in turn lead to serious reconsideration of the whole plan.


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