The development of ecological impact assessment in China

Xuehua Liu*, Zhouyuan Li, Chenghao Liao, Qing Wang, Annah Zhu, Dong Li, Yajun Li, Zhuo Tang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The balance between economic development and ecological conservation in China has become a critical issue in recent decades. Ecological impact assessment (EcoIA) was established beginning in the 1980s as a component of environmental impact assessment (EIA) that focuses specifically on human-related changes in ecosystem structure and function. EcoIA has since been widely applied throughout the country with continuous refinements in theory and practice. As compared to EIA, EcoIA is often performed at a larger scale in the long-term, and thus requires more advanced tools and techniques to quantify and assess. This paper reviews the development of EcoIA over the past 30. years in China, with specific consideration given to refinements in legislation and methodology. Three stages in the development of EcoIA in China are identified, along with their achievements and limitations. Supplementing this qualitative analysis, the paper also provides a quantitative bibliometrics review of academic publications concerning EcoIA in China over the three identified stages. Lastly, general trends in the development of EcoIA are summarized with the aim of conveying potential future trajectories. This review is intended to introduce the EcoIA system to scholars interested in the growing field of environmental management in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-53
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Biodiversity
  • China
  • Ecological impact assessment (EcoIA)
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental impact assessment (EIA)


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