The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), published in 2005, identified that ecosystems have declined more rapidly and extensively in the preceding 50 years than during any other comparable time in human history. Such changes can influence the functioning of ecosystems, have consequences for the provision of ecosystem services, and ultimately impact on human welfare.

A range of key ‘direct drivers’ (such as pollution, climate change and habitat loss), underpinned by ‘indirect drivers’ (e.g. economics, political, socio-cultural, demographic, and  technical), have been highlighted as agents for such changes. A key challenge, under the auspices of ‘sustainability’, is to identify approaches where negative impacts are mitigated, or at least reduced to an ‘acceptable level.

The module considers selected environmental impacts on ecological systems, with a particular focus on the terrestrial environment. Mitigation strategies, policies and legislation addressing environmental impacts will be explored, using environmental impact assessment (EIA) as a central focus. The role of adaptive management and stakeholder engagement will be explored. Issues will be explored using case studies and Codes of Practice, as appropriate.