Using the capabilities of geographic information systems when conducting environmental and social impact assessments

Client: Confidential, large plywood production company
Location: Russia

Project: Environmental and social impact assessment of the bleached pulp mill and its associated facilities
Purpose: Conduct an assessment of the project’s impact on the environment and social sphere, analyze the available base for the development of forest areas in the region where the project is implemented, identify potential land use conflicts, areas that are difficult to access for development and zones with special conditions for the use of territories

ENSOR consultants analyzed publicly available source data (stock materials, literature data, materials from previous assessments), remote sensing data (satellite data, aerial photography data, digital elevation models), as well as data received from the Client.
ESRI software (ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Online) was used to analyze and process the data. High-resolution satellite images (PlanetScope) with a spatial resolution of 3 m in four spectral channels (RGB+Nir), multispectral images of medium and low resolution (Landsat and Sentinel-2), local aerial photography data (UAV), digital relief models (DEM models). In addition, raster, vector data and data from geoinformation servers that are in the public domain, archival and literary data, as well as materials provided by the customer were used. The results of geoprocessing of data were supplemented by field research methods conducted by specialized highly qualified specialists.


ENSOR consultants assessed the environmental and social impacts of the pulp mill project and its associated facilities. During the assessment, software was used for geoprocessing, analysis and synthesis of remote sensing data, raster and vector data obtained from government geographic information systems and open sources, as well as client materials.

Based on the results of the synthesis of information, a report was prepared to assess the impact of the project, guidelines and instructions for conducting activities were drawn up in accordance with the requirements of Russian legislation and international financial organizations in terms of environmental and social protection, including a series of cartographic materials, in particular:

  • areas of potential impacts of projects,
  • landscape zoning of the project area and the boundaries of particularly valuable and vulnerable landscapes,
  • maps of soils, land cover and habitats (including critical habitats in accordance with the Performance Standard 6 and the IFC guidelines),
  • spread of dangerous exogenous phenomena,
  • boundaries of zones with special conditions for the use of territories,
  • forest areas available for development, forest lands located in hard-to-reach areas, places of existing and potential land use conflicts
14. Application and implementation of geoinformation systems (GIS)