Course #4. Mitigation Hierarchy in Impact Assessment for Balancing Conservation Needs with Development Priorities




“We face a choice between protecting our economy by protecting our environment or allowing environmental havoc to create economic havoc.” -Robert E Rubin

The Mitigation Hierarchy (MH) offers a framework for effective management of environmental risks and potential impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services across development sectors. It supports explicit decision-making that balances conservation needs with development priorities. Developing mitigation strategies based on prioritized steps of ‘avoid’, ‘minimize’, ‘restore’, and ‘offset’ is key to achieving sustainable outcomes for biodiversity and ecosystem services and helps businesses to reduce and manage their residual impacts. This course will trace the origin of mitigation steps in impact assessment, introduce the hierarchical framework, improve understanding and significance of the key stages in the MH, and guide its practical implementation through design and planning stages and through to the project’s lifespan.

The course advocates use of “upstream” perspectives to discourage application of mitigation as a “band-aid”, focusing only on project-by-project impacts. It will consider the role of cumulative impact assessment of multiple projects and Strategic Environmental Assessment as proactive approaches that can help to avoid reactive mitigation.

This course aims to benefit a wide range of professionals involved in improving the environmental sustainability of projects from the perspective of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This includes impact assessment practitioners, members of the conservation community, investors, decision-makers, and policy makers. The course is designed to help these different players make smart development decisions.

Level: Intermediate
Prerequisites: Participants are required to have basic understanding of IA and ecological concepts related to biodiversity and ecosystem services
Duration: 2 days (16-17 November)
Min/Max: 10-30

Asha Rajvanshi, Wildlife Institute of India (India)

Vinod B. Mathur, Wildlife Institute of India (India)


Dr. Asha Rajvanshi joined the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) as a member of its faculty in 1986 and has continued to work there through the present. She currently works as scientist 'G' and heads the Environmental Impact Assessment Cell of WII.

Asha has over three decades of professional standing as a teacher, trainer, researcher, and impact assessment practitioner. Her career has been dedicated to the promotion of science and art of impact assessment in the country, both as an academic discipline and as a decision support tool in India and the region. She has played the lead role in the development, testing, and encouraging of mainstreaming tools for biodiversity in impact assessment in India and the region and in building capacity in the field of impact assessment. She has led over 100 EIA studies in all the key development sectors (mining, hydropower, nuclear power, industry, road rail and airport transportation, tourism, and forestry).

Asha has conceived, coordinated, and delivered several training programmes in the field of impact assessment in India at WII and has trained over 1000 professionals nationally and over 400 professionals from over 58 countries. She has been the nodal faculty for teaching courses in the field of ecology and impact assessment at WII. As a guest faculty, she has taught in several national universities, where she supervised doctoral and masters level research in the field of ecological assessments and impact assessment of development projects and land use changes for students from universities in India and abroad. She has also provided training inputs in professional training programs organized for professional foresters, Indian bureaucrats, planners and engineers in transport and railway sectors, mining professionals, and trainers for several academic universities and professional training institutes and has conducted capacity building programs for several international organizations. She has conducted 10 pre-meeting courses offered by IAIA from 2005-2015.

Asha has provided professional support to global EIA initiatives led by UNEP, European Union, the World Bank, IUCN, IAIA, Wetland International, Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment, Environmental Protection Agency-Ghana, CBD, GIZ, Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and Inter-American Development Bank. She has been one of the contributors to the global Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and is currently nominated as an expert on the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) for Asia and Pacific region assessment.

Asha has been a member of IAIA since 1999, serving as the Co-Chair of the Biodiversity and Ecology Section for four years. She is currently a member of the Awards Committee and the Professional Development Program.


Dr. Vinod B. Mathur joined the Indian Forest Service (IFS) and topped the 1983-85 IFS Professional Course at the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA), Dehradun, and the XLV Foundational Course at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in 1985. He obtained his doctorate degree in wildlife ecology from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, in 1991. He is the Regional Vice-Chair of the IUCN-World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA-South Asia) and is currently serving as a member of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change’s (Government of India) Committees on World Heritage Conservation, Biosphere Reserves, Management Effectiveness Evaluation, and Environment Appraisal of Coal and Thermal Projects. Vinod served as Dean of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) from 2005-2014 and was appointed as Director, WII, in February 2014 and as Director, UNESCO C2C at WII, in September 2015.

Vinod has now spent over three decades in WII, actively contributing to its wide range of training, research, and academic programmes in the field of biodiversity conservation and research-policy interface. He has extensive experience as an international trainer and his special interests include biodiversity conservation, natural heritage conservation, environmental and strategic impact assessment, and biodiversity informatics.

Vinod has been a member of IAIA since 1999 and has co-delivered 10 IAIA pre-meeting training courses in the thematic area of biodiversity-inclusive impact assessment.

Vinod has been actively contributing to research-policy interface issues and is the Regional Vice-Chair (Asia-Pacific Region) of United Nations Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (UN-IPBES) Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP). He is also currently the Chair of the UN-CBD Advisory Group for developing synergies between eight biodiversity-related conventions. He has been part of the official Indian delegation for CBD and UNESCO World Heritage Committee Meetings since 2006 and has in-depth knowledge about the working of these conventions.