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Environmental impact assessment

Environmental assessment is the assessment of environmental consequences, either positive or negative, following an action. This can be a human action such as the installation of a structure or a natural event such as a heatwave or cyclone. Collecting baseline information is important prior to the start of new projects to understand whether change has occurred over time.

In the event of an impact, eDNA collected at impacted sites and non-impacted sites can be compared to determine if loss of species biodiversity has occurred at impacted sites. Loss of habitat from an impact may also lead to turnover of species assemblages or invasion of alien species, both of which can be detected through eDNA monitoring.

Positive consequences can also be determined using eDNA analysis by monitoring for early indications of recovery of impacted sites. This has been demonstrated by the changes in invertebrate diversity and abundance during mine site restoration, as well as fish and marine mammal diversity and abundance following disturbance in marine and river systems.