What is a Biophysical Impact Assessment or Ecological Impact Assessment ?

A Biophysical Impact Assessment (sometimes called a Biological or Ecological Impact Assessment – BIA or EIA) is an assessment and evaluation of the impact of a proposed project on identified environmentally significant areas, natural parks and natural areas.  These BIA Assessments are used by consent authorities to provide a full background of the Biological and Ecological Values of a site.  Once these values are clearly understood then the full impact on these values can be evaluated and mitigation or compensation can be recommended to reduce the impacts.  These assessments identify environmentally significant areas which often include; wetlands, habitat corridors, rare and endangered plants or animals and their habitats including migratory bird habitat, and Species at Risk.  They provide a background of current conditions and any significant features which need to be considered as part of your proposed development and assist assessing officers in determining any likely impacts to items of significance.  They also allow for mitigative measures to be identified at the project stage.

The information for the background of these reports generally includes:

  • Physical landscape assessment – topography, soil and geology;
  • Hydrology – presence of wetlands and waterbodies such as drainage corridors, streams, creeks, and rivers;
  • Habitat types;
  • Landscape Ecology assessment – wildlife corridors, habitat connections, and any unique features;
  • ANHIC, FWMIS, database research results on the potential presence of listed species at risk, species of special status or rare communities.

Most municipalities have guidelines on what specifically they want considered for these assessments and often they will provide the landowner or their applicant with a letter outlining specific requirements they would like considered.  Often surveys need to be undertaken in the correct season so consideration needs to be given that project planning is critical to assist in achieving project timelines.

The City of Calgary has a Biophysical Impact Assessment Framework which provides details of the various levels of assessment required for various projects and their impacts.  This can be found at:


The Alberta Government also has a guide “Environmental Assessment Program Guide to Preparing Environmental Impact Assessment Reports in Alberta” which provides detailed information about assessment impacts of projects on the natural environment.  This can be found at:


At Anderson Environmental we provide a range of Biophysical Assessment Services Including:

  • Biological Assessments
    • Wetland Assessments
    • Vegetation Assessments
    • Wildlife Surveys
    • Pre-Disturbance Planning & Assessment
    • Environmental Screening Reports
    • Natural Site Assessment
    • Species Biodiversity Reports
    • Ecological Land Classification & Community Typing
    • Vegetation Community Description & Rare Plant Surveys
    • Vegetation and Soils Mapping
    • Invasive Species Surveys & Management Plans
    • Migratory Bird Surveys
    • Environmental Protection Plans

We also undertake a range of soils and Phase 1 ESA’s and Phase 2 ESA’s covering Calgary, Edmonton, and all areas of Alberta and British Columbia.

Please give us a call for assistance with your next project.