Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process of analysing and managing intended and unintended consequences of planned developments or other interventions on the environment, including those linked to tourism.  It is widely practised in many countries in a wide variety of forms.  In New Zealand, under the Resource Management Act (RMA) framework  an EIA is commonly referred to as an Assessment of  Environmental Effects (AEE).  As the environment is broadly defined in the RMA to include people, communities, culture, heritage and amenity, an AEE can include an assessment of all these aspects of the environment if relevant to the intervention in question.

A full EIA typically brings together all the various components of technical assessment of effects, often as separate sections in the report, including, for example, ecological, physical, landscape, social, economic, health and other components.  An effect (while the word impact is used internationally the word effect is preferred in NZ) is broadly defined to include positive and negative effects, short and long term effects, and cumulative effects.  Usually analysis of effects includes an assessment of their likely scale and probability.

EIA systems include the legal framework for conducting and administering EIAs, including processes for public involvement, monitoring  and impact mitigation. 

How and when the tool is used

EIA is most typically used in the planning stages of a project that has implications for the environment.   Typical large-scale tourism projects that would require EIA include, for example, planning and building a resort in or near a natural area, developing a new ski area, or for building waste management facilities or transport infrastructure, such as an access road, marina or jetty.  It also applies in a more abbreviated form for smaller developments such as a hotel extension, expansion of a traffic route, etc., with the EIA at a level of detail appropriate to the likely potential effects of the proposal.


Impact assessment, simply defined, is the process of identifying the future consequences of a current or proposed action.

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Outcome Areas Economic, Environmental, Social, Cultural
Management Domains Air Quality, Land, Coastal, Urban Systems, Natural Hazards, Biosecurity, Biodiversity, Community, Waste, Freshwater
Steady State or Dynamic Unknown

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