Usually, EIA reports are the product of a team of consultants and specialists. Most proposals have a number of different types of potential impacts (biophysical, socio-economic, health, etc) and their analysis requires a range of expertise. An EIA Project Manager or team leader has responsibility for forming an interdisciplinary team and managing its work.
The EIA report is a statement of the likely impacts of a proposal and how these can be mitigated and managed. It is a decision document, not a compendium of technical information. As such, the EIA report should be both rigorous and easily understood. It must effectively communicate the findings to the public at large, local people affected by the proposal and interest groups, as well as decision-makers who are the primary users.
As described earlier, the non-technical summary or executive summary is particularly important as the only section of the EIA report that will be widely read. The precis of significant findings presents the reporting team with the opportunity to describe complex material in a few pages. It is easy to call for, but hard to do. Tables, diagrams and caption materials that capture and compare significance impacts can help. All have their place but none can be effective without the preliminary work of producing a clear and comprehensive EIA report, which is based on rigorous studies, sound data and consistent analysis and interpretation.
Distribution of the report
Usually, EIA reports are available to the public and distributed widely. However, the institutional arrangements for this purpose differ. As a general guide, the EIA report should be accessible to all those who have an interest in, or are affected by, the proposal. Where public consultation has been extensive, it can be useful to lodge the EIA report in public institutions and distribute the summary to all individuals who have registered their names. Other measures may be needed in many developing countries, particularly where proposals directly affect poor and non-literate communities.
Other forms of presentation
Depending upon the circumstances, other forms of presentation of the findings should be considered. These include:
- use of local media, radio and television;
- community report back;
- newsletters, information sheets;
- walk-in and storefront displays; and
- feedback through political representatives, local chiefs or other power structures, as appropriate.