The application of Geographical Information Systems to determine environmental impact significance

Paula Antunes, Rui Santos, Luís Jordão

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a new methodology for impact assessment - SIAM (Spatial Impact Assessment Methodology) - which is based on the assumption that the importance of environmental impacts is dependent, among other things, on the spatial distribution of the effects and of the affected environment. The information generated by the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in impact identification and prediction stages of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is used in the assessment of impact significance by the computation of a set of impact indices. For each environmental component (e.g., air pollution, water resources, biological resources), impact indices are calculated based on the spatial distribution of impacts. A case study of impact evaluation of a proposed highway in Central Portugal illustrates the application of the methodology and shows its capabilities to be adapted to the particular characteristics of a given EIA problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-535
Number of pages25
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Significance of impacts
  • Spatial indices


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