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Integrating Ecological Assessment and Decision-Making

Risk Assessment Forum

An Intra-Agency Colloquium, convened by a Technical Panel of the U.S. EPAs Risk Assessment Forum, reviewed the state of ecological risk assessment, responded to recommendations by the Science Advisory Board, and recommended actions to improve ecological risk assessment practices in the Agency. The panel and participants recommended an integrated framework that included all types of environmental assessments and focused on solving environmental problems. They reviewed existing guidance and found that, while it is abundant, it is not systematic or readily available. The response to comments found that most of the recommendations were being carried out in some components of the Agency, but practices are not consistent.

The report includes a summary of the colloquium, background materials including interviews and supporting text for discussion of responses to SAB and NRC recommendations, a historical overview of ecological assessment, and elucidation of the Integrated Framework for Environmental Assessment. It also includes an appendix of available guidance for conducting ecological assessments in table form. This table will be intermittently updated, and made available at the EPA/OSA/RAF website.

The panel and participants made policy recommendations including greater attention to Agency-wide ecological protection goals, better communication of ecological issues, and a systems approach to assessment and management including better integration of assessment into the decision making process. They also made technical recommendations for improving assessment practice including the development of guidance on linkage of assessment endpoints to ecosystem services, weighing multiple types of evidence in assessments, and quality assurance for assessments. Finally, the participants strongly recommended that mechanisms and venues be provided for communication, problem sharing, training and mentoring in the community of ecological assessors.

Contact: Risk Assessment Forum Staff

Downloads/Related Links

Related Link(s)


U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). (2010) Integrating Ecological Assessment and Decision-Making at EPA: A Path Forward. Results of a Colloquium in Response to Science Advisory Board and National Research Council Recommendations. Risk Assessment Forum. Washington, DC. EPA/100/R-10/004

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