If you or your business has ever wanted to develop a property, chances are, you have probably worked with an environmental consulting firm at some point in the process. If you haven’t yet, the chances are that you will. Environmental consulting is one of the most critical aspects of the planning process for any project. Unfortunately, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
If you think you might be in need of environmental consultants for your project, keep reading to learn more about two of the most important services they can provide. Also, try to keep in mind that while these services may increase your initial costs up front, they save you time and money in the long run by ensuring things are done correctly from the start. This can also protect you from potential liabilities later on, should something go wrong on your property or with your project.
What Environmental Consultants Do
Environmental consultants offer many services that provide information necessary for any project, such as environmental impact assessments, ecological studies, and environmental and natural resource management systems. Some consultants, like the Sydney-based environmental consultants Molino Stewart, also offer stakeholder and community engagement and education services. These can be helpful in cases where developers, stakeholders, and the community may harbor different views of a project.
Most environmental consulting firms offer a very wide range of important services. However, some can have a larger impact on the success of your project than others. Not all consulting firms are made equal, but the really great ones share a few key hallmarks: a solid community and stakeholder engagement/education program, and a well-organized environmental and ecological impact assessment and management service.
Ecological Studies and EIAs
Before you can begin any construction or development project, you have to conduct ecological and environmental impact assessments (EIAs). These assessments map the flora and fauna of the ecosystems potentially affected by the project and quantify the biodiversity in these locations.
This information is required by various environmental protection acts to gain approvals for a project. The outcomes of these studies might also require management plans for vegetation and wildlife.
A good environmental consulting firm will have experts with all the proper certifications required to conduct every aspect of the study. They will also help you with the process of submitting the results and developing biodiversity management systems. A great firm will even offer the planning and technology to implement those systems and help you through the entire approval process.
Stakeholder and Community Engagement
No matter the project or what it entails, chances are that someone, somewhere, will have an objection. Therefore, one key service you should look for in an environmental consulting firm is a good community education/outreach or a stockholder education program.
What does a good education program look like? Well, the first indicator is an adaptive education plan that can effectively target a broad range of demographics. This encompasses everything from local government councils and nearby residents to businesses and schools. This will help clear up any objections borne of misunderstandings. It will enable the community to more fully understand how your project will impact their environment and help them feel engaged in the process.
When it comes to stakeholder education and engagement, you want to look for a slightly different approach. These are people who will be directly impacted by the proposed project and hold a stake in its outcome. An effective education plan will provide subject background information that is relevant to all concerned parties. It will also include learning activities that cover the scope of the topic and clear guidelines that establish when and what is being done to address the issue.
You can’t overstate the importance of environmental consulting, so it is critical that you go with a good firm. It can be a little tricky to know which ones are best. Your best bet is to stick with ones that have a strong outreach and education program and a comprehensive impact assessment and management service.