These notes were written by experts who were consulted by the Elard consulting company, which is conducting the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study of the Fouad Boutros highway project. These notes are comments on the Scoping Report of the EIA, and are supposed to be integrated in the revised and final scoping report, which will be the basis of the study’s scientific methodology.
The concern I raised during the meeting with experts, April 23, 2014, was the lack of integration between the two sub-sections (5.6. Biological Environment; and 5.7 Landscape and Visual Amenity). My recommendation was for integrating the ecological and visual components by identifying “Landscape Typologies” for the project site. My comments were duly listed in the appendix, the word ‘typology’ does appear in subtitle (188.8.131.52) but the body of this section has changed little to adapt to these comments.
‘Ecology’ is more than a listing of plants and green areas, and similarly, ‘landscape’ is more than visual impact assessment. Rather, the distinctiveness of the existing landscape can be captured by identifying the complexity and diversity of the existing urban landscape in four key overlays:
- Ecologically: the report fails to address key attributes of the urban ecology, the hydrology for example water permeability within the existing fabric and ecological landscape connectivity
- Spatially: the various forms that make up the urban landscape fabric of Fouad Boutros (for example, house garden, open green spaces, productive/agricultural spaces, streetscape, etc)
- Socio-culturally: current use of outdoor spaces and social connectivity, which is as important as ecological connectivity
- Visually: a fourth dimension of each typology which is adequately addressed.
I reiterate my earlier concern that the rational underlying this section of the Scoping Report in its present form fails to provide a ‘holistic’, layered assessment of the existing urban landscape that will serve as benchmarks for assessing the impact of future development.
Landscape Architect, Ecological Planning Consultant
Associate Faculty, AUB