How to Build an Environmental Management Plan

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An environmental management plan provides guidelines for managing resources. It guides decision making and short-term goals. Plans will often be written for a set time period, sometimes years. By having a plan in place, an agency has a means to make good decisions. With public input, the plan helps agencies measure public opinion. It can help to guide future management decisions, especially when the citizens will be affected. It creates focus within an agency, guiding it through management changes.

Things You'll Need

  • Baseline data
  • Team of experts
  • Spreadsheet program for entering data

Development

  • Identify the problem or question. In order to remain centered on a management plan, a clearly defined goal must be identified. Only in this way can the success of an environmental management plan be gauged.

  • Conduct surveys and inventories of plants and wildlife as affected by the goal. These initial numbers provide baseline data. The success of the plan is judged by the impacts on these figures. They also help provide tangible evidence, especially important for non-technical shareholders.

  • Solicit input from all shareholders. This is essential toward development of a sound plan. Since no resource sits in isolation, an environmental management plan can affect other parties. For the best adherence and acceptance of a plan, input is needed to address concerns early in the planning process.

  • With the goal in mind, develop several approaches to a solution. A definitive solution is not always clear. Be sure to incorporate shareholder input in any approach. Oftentimes shareholder input may bring new conditions to light and can direct the development of a plan.

  • Develop an environmental impact statement (EIS). If the management plan will have potential impact on resources, an EIS considers the environmental cost. This cost is weighed with the shareholder input to judge the efficacy of the plan.

  • Write the management plan. An environmental management plan often involves multiple components, requiring expert insight from several professionals. Typically, a plan is developed and written by a team of experts.

  • Seek public input. An attempt to gather public input is often required, especially in the case of government-owned lands. Agencies can make a proposed plan available online and also by mail. Any citizen who wishes to view the plan should have the reasonable means to obtain a copy.

  • Modify the plan as necessary. If contingencies such as closing off areas to the public prove unpopular, compromises can be developed that satisfy public and environmental needs. A plan with strong public approval has a greater chance of success.

  • Implement the plan. Once public and environmental concerns have been addressed, implementation of the plan can begin. It is important to adhere to the plan as approved.

  • Continue monitoring the resource. Implementation of the plan is only the beginning. Continued monitoring and reporting will help gauge whether the plan was able to solve the identified issue. Monitoring also helps agencies tweak a plan as needed, but always after public disclosure.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always give the public adequate time to respond, especially if the plan involves restrictions of any sort.
  • Sometimes, compromise is not possible. In the end, the protection of the environment should guide the decision-making process.
  • Address concerns early. Never let unpopular concerns be unaddressed.

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