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Ecological Information Needed For Environmental Impact Statements

Beatrice E. Willard, Natural Resources Environmental Law (1972)

So that we will all commence from the same basis, let me define three terms:
1. Environment — the total complex of physical and chemical factors in any given site.
2. Ecosystem — any recognizable segment of the landscape that is relatively homogeneous and discrete from other segments. An ecosystem is composed of three things: environment factors, organisms, and the dynamics — the interactions — the processes that operate among them. It is truly a system, one that is far more complex than any made by man.
3. Ecology — the science that studies the ecosystem; ecology is not the ecosystem itself or its components.
1. What ecological information is needed in preparing an Environmental Impact Statement?
Unless we know what is on a site, in all seasons of the year, we cannot answer the five basic questions in the CEQ guidelines. All ecological information is necessary, but some is more valuable and more applicable depending on the situation. And much of the information has not yet been gathered.
There are seven basic principles of ecology that assist in determining impacts:
1. Everything affects everything else. Although we cannot view the entire network and all its functionings now, all data point to this principle.
2. All living things have niches that are in ecosystems. Niches are roles; an ecosystem is composed of the interlocking roles of its plant