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Comparison between Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment and A Brief Proposal for Strategic

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The environment is a vital force to reckon with when thinking about developing tourism business concerning the Forest. Hence, it is important to utilize the best environmental assessment system. This paper offers a critical comparison between the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) with the view of identifying the one that is better appropriate for measuring the environmental conditions in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Comparison of EIA and SEA There are some differences between Economic Impact Assessment, EIA and SEA. 1. F. Dow and S. Dow, U.S. National Forest Campground Guide, Pacific North Region—Washington, Moon Canyon Publishing, Seiad Valley CA, 2005, p. 99. 2 While EIA aims to minimize impacts, SEA aims to prevent impacts right from the onset. EIA offers limited review of cumulative effects, SEA considers cumulative effects assessment as a primary task. It is a known fact that EIA focuses on standard agenda and treats systems of environmental deterioration while SEA focuses on sustainability agenda and handles sources of environmental deterioration. Similarly, EIA emphasizes on mitigating and minimizing impacts while SEA emphasizes on meeting environmental objectives and maintains natural systems. 2 Background of the SEA Commissioned to the Proposal of Tourism Development SEA is usually applicable to the proposal of tourism development through the action of US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And this is done by adopting the methodologies of SEA through land-use planning, energy, waste management and transport. This multi-layered procedure requires that experts should be incorporated at every level or stage coupled with strong political will, constant funding and needful public participation in the process.3 The application of SEA supports the design of plans to regulate both the natural and infrastructural aspects of the management of Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. 4 2. United Nations University, Strategic Environmental Assessment. August 2011. Viewed on 14 August 2011, http://sea.unu.edu/course/?page_id=30 3. B. Bramwell, Coastal mass tourism: diversification and sustainable development in Southern Europe, Channel View Publication, 2004, pp.147-8. 3 GIS for support generation towards Strategic Environmental Assessment It has been discovered that Geographic Information System (GIS) can be used a supporting tool towards Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Since SEA is concerned about land-use planning, spatial data and GIS can be used in SEA. This involves utilizing GIS applications and techniques that include but are not limited to digital mapping, spatial analysis (overlays and weighted overlays), modeling and participative GIS.5 The good news is that GIS can be applied to each stage of SEA, which is comprised of screening, scoping, baseline environment, strategic environmental objectives, development of alternatives, monitoring and public participation.6 This indicates that using GIS techniques will help to streamline the process of carrying out SEA. Although it is important that GIS methodology must be followed step by step before success could be recorded in this respect. There are limitations to the use of GIS towards SEA. for examples, some data are too complicated for SEA experts to analyze and apply, and they should be minimally utilized. 4. C. Jones, Strategic Enviro