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The importance of data and scale issues for strategic environmental assessment (SEA) - editorial

João, E.M.M.S. (2007) The importance of data and scale issues for strategic environmental assessment (SEA) - editorial. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 27 (5). pp. 361-364. ISSN 0195-9255

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Abstract

Editorial on this special issue of the Journal EIA Review on "Data and scale issues for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)" bridges the fields of environmental assessment and scale for the first time. Data and scale issues are always implicit in the environmental assessment process but often are not discussed in an explicit manner (João, 2002 E. João, How scale affects environmental impact assessment, Environ Impact Asses Rev 22 (4) (2002), pp. 287-306.João, 2002). This special issue intends to reverse this trend. In the case of SEA it can be argued that the choice of both data and scale is particularly challenging. SEA is the environmental assessment of higher-level strategic actions (such as a transportation policy) and therefore it is generally accepted that it cannot describe the baseline environment in as much detail as project EIA. According to Therivel (2004), too much detail in SEA would render the information useless and meaningless-i.e. 'can't see the wood for the trees.' The challenge for SEA is to achieve the finely tuned balance between being immersed in too much data and collecting sufficient information to inform the decision-making process. To cap it all, SEA needs to do this quickly in order to match the timing of the strategic decision-making process, which can be fast (ANSEA Team, 2002).