Ecologist Vilda recently attended the Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) annual conference 2023 in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The conference, themed “Leading the Wave of Change – Aratakina te ngaru o te huringa,” brought together experts from diverse environmental disciplines to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time and explore how we can lead the change in our ever-evolving world.
One of the highlights for Vilda was delving into the potential of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) as a formidable tool for preserving essential ecosystems for future generations while simultaneously promoting the sustainable development of human society. Equally enlightening was the opportunity to explore the ethical responsibilities we bear toward our environment and our personal environmental values, and how we can balance these with our obligations as environmental professionals.
An EIA is a systematic evaluation of the potential environmental consequences of a proposed project or development. It involves predicting and assessing impacts on the environment, including air and water quality, biodiversity, and local communities, before the project is executed. The findings of an EIA guide decision-makers and stakeholders in making informed choices about the project’s approval, design, and necessary mitigation measures.
An EIA is a comprehensive process which offers benefits to stakeholders, including decision-makers, communities, and environmental advocates, empowering them with valuable insights for informed decision-making, enhanced environmental protection, improved project design, promotion of public participation, and legal compliance. Ultimately, it contributes to sustainable development while safeguarding the environment and the interests of those affected by the project.
Finally, Vilda also got to visit Tiritiri Matangi Scientific Reserve, a once-barren island near Auckland. It’s now a thriving sanctuary and a global model for community-led conservation. Careful management, eradication of invasive species, and habitat restoration have led to a remarkable recovery of native bird species, including the rare Ruru, Hihi, and Kōkako.