We, as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) practitioners, have a not-surprising tendency to rationalize when things “go off the rails.” We often point to unforeseen and arguably unforeseeable circumstances. The actions of various “unreasonable” stakeholders are commonly cited. EIA processes and documents are frequently lengthy, complex, controversial, and uncertain … all of which is well and good. But such contextual factors are not always at the root of the difficulties encountered in EIA practice. Sometimes the problems that emerge are at least partially attributable to the failure of EIA project managers and study teams to avoid readily identifiable pitfalls. Experienced EIA practitioners should be aware both of the potential pitfalls and of the means of preventing them from occurring—or, at least, of promptly ameliorating adverse consequences as they arise.
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