Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation
Research Letters
Incorporating landscape ecology metrics into environmental impact assessment in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest
Matheus Fernandes Dalloza,, , Renato Crouzeillesb,c,d, Mauricio Almeida-Gomese, Bernardo Papif,g, Jayme Augusto Prevedelloh
a Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), Brasília, DF, Brazil
b Rio Conservation and Sustainability Science Centre (CSRio), Department of Geography and the Environment, Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
c International Institute for Sustainability, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
d Department of Ecology, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
e Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso do Sul, MS, Brazil
f Ecotrópica Ambiental Ltda.-ME, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
g Programa de Pós-Graduação em Meio Ambiente, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
h Laboratório de Ecologia de Paisagens, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
Received 06 December 2016, Accepted 11 July 2017
Abstract

Evaluating the impacts of large infra-structure projects on biodiversity is challenging, especially for linear projects such as power lines, which may extend over large geographical areas. Here we show how landscape metrics can be easily incorporated into Environmental Impact Assessment to identify the best alternative location for implementing linear infrastructures. To do so, we evaluated as a case study three alternative paths presented in the Environmental Impact Assessment of a power line in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. For each path, we calculated habitat availability – an integrative metric that combines habitat amount and connectivity – for eight hypothetical species, and four complementary metrics for comparison (habitat amount and number, size and isolation of habitat patches). Habitat availability varied substantially among alternative paths, being up to 46% higher for one path compared to another one. Complementary landscape metrics varied little among alternative paths, and did not converge for the same results of habitat availability, most likely because these metrics do not consider connectivity, a critical ecological attribute of landscapes affected by power lines. Our results indicate that habitat availability can be a useful metric to inform landscape-level decision-making involved in Environmental Impact Assessment, particularly in transmission line projects.

Keywords
Biodiversity, Decision-making, GIS, Habitat availability, Habitat fragmentation, Power lines