, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 64-78
Date: 11 Sep 2007

Strategic Environmental Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Options in the Canadian Agricultural Sector

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This article presents a methodological framework for strategic environmental assessment (SEA) application. The overall objective is to demonstrate SEA as a systematic and structured policy, plan, and program (PPP) decision support tool. In order to accomplish this objective, a stakeholder-based SEA application to greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation policy options in Canadian agriculture is presented. Using a mail-out impact assessment exercise, agricultural producers and nonproducers from across the Canadian prairie region were asked to evaluate five competing GHG mitigation options against 13 valued environmental components (VECs). Data were analyzed using multi-criteria and exploratory analytical techniques. The results suggest considerable variation in perceived impacts and GHG mitigation policy preferences, suggesting that a blanket policy approach to GHG mitigation will create gainers and losers based on soil type and associate cropping and on-farm management practices. It is possible to identify a series of regional greenhouse gas mitigation programs that are robust, socially meaningful, and operationally relevant to both agricultural producers and policy decision makers. The assessment demonstrates the ability of SEA to address, in an operational sense, environmental problems that are characterized by conflicting interests and competing objectives and alternatives. A structured and systematic SEA methodology provides the necessary decision support framework for the consideration of impacts, and allows for PPPs to be assessed based on a much broader set of properties, objectives, criteria, and constraints whereas maintaining rigor and accountability in the assessment process.