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Implementing a successful environmental management plan

To implement a successful environmental management plan, consider three things:

1. Know what is in your plan:

Presumably, you know what commitments have been made in your environmental management plan. But do you know what other commitments have been made in other documents associated with your plan? Are they consistent with what is in your plan? Too often multiple, sometimes conflicting, commitments are made by different people in different documents during the rush to permit or develop a project. If your environmental management plan has not resolved these conflicts before implementation, it may not be possible to do so. Developing a register of environmental obligations that documents all of the commitments made for the project early in the planning stages can reduce the potential for overlaps and conflicts. It can also help identify gaps that may exist in your management measures.

2. Make sure your plan is practical:

Environmental plans look great on paper. You have identified key issues, defined actions to mitigate environmental risks, laid out a clear schedule and budget and it appears that all the angles are covered. But it is important to ask, “Is this plan something that we can actually implement on the ground?”

Your plan has to be sensible and realistic for the specific circumstances. You need to consider what technical, economic, and human resources will be needed to execute the plan. For example, you cannot promise to sample every monitoring location every week if your project isn’t adequately staffed.

While conceptualising plans, it’s easy to lose touch with the realities of real-world work conditions. Things will go wrong. Design your plan to be practical and adaptable.

3. Review and revise your plan constantly by using evaluation tools:

A good environmental management plan should be a living document. Initially, the plan needs to be designed to achieve your goals based on the information available. As you implement the plan and document the results, pay attention to how tasks are executed and how effective they are. This information can then be used to determine how effective the plan is at achieving the goals. Then you can adapt the plan as needed. One of the most important aspects of a strategic plan is to be able to evaluate your success with measurable metrics. Make what works your standard practice and adjust the elements that aren’t working well. Write and implement your environmental plan with continual improvement in mind.

Jeff Parshley:

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