3.5.2. Cumulative impact management at the project scale

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Last update: June 2023

To date, there is no clear, unified method to conduct cumulative impact assessment and management across the EU but some approaches are used depending on the stakeholders involved and the regulatory context:

  • Definition of a threshold can be used to define how much an activity impacts biodiversity and thus to place limits on the extent of this activity can be allowed on a given territory. For example, there are cases of Natural Parks imposing limits on wind farm building, such as less than to 300 turbines, on the assumption that a larger installation would have a significant cumulative impact on bird and bat populations.
  • Foresight can be a relevant tool to assess the possible future and cumulative impacts and their management for a given territory (see Chapter 4 – Integration of the infrastructure into the landscape).
  • Predict cumulative impacts through modelling: ecological modelling is used to assess scenarios and evaluate the contribution of multiple landscape elements, including transport infrastructure, on species dynamics (Figure 3.5.1). Such a modelling-based approach can be extended to multiple species and different areas of biodiversity and has been implemented in several studies.
Figure 3.5.1 – An example of cumulative impacts. A high-speed railway and urban expansion are added to an existing motorway in an area where Natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita) population is distributed between different interconnected suitable habitats (green lines). Population dynamic simulation permits to measure independently the impact of each project on the toad population. Impacts issuing from each combination of projects can be also assessed. This framework can be generalized to multiple projects of various nature (Source: Adapted from Moulherat, 2014).

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