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Environments, Volume 5, Issue 2 (February 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) In this study, state-of-the-art impact assessment methods were used to generate a wide range of [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Deriving a Benefit Transfer Function for Threatened and Endangered Species in Interaction with Their Level of Charisma
Environments 2018, 5(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020031
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 5 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 23 February 2018
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Abstract
Biodiversity and species conservation are among the most urgent global issues. Both are under serious threat because of human intrusion and as a result, it is likely that present and future projects will affect threatened and endangered species. Thus, it is important to
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Biodiversity and species conservation are among the most urgent global issues. Both are under serious threat because of human intrusion and as a result, it is likely that present and future projects will affect threatened and endangered species. Thus, it is important to account for these impacts when evaluating and conducting cost and benefit analyses of projects. Due to their public good character and non-tradability, the total economic value of threatened and endangered species cannot be reflected by a market price and therefore, alternative approaches (stated preference method) are needed to determine their monetary value. This paper reviews and compares the valuation literature on threatened and endangered animals and conducts a meta-analysis regression to identify explanatory variables for the variation in willingness to pay for threatened and endangered species. The main findings of the meta-analysis show that the interaction of the level of threat and charisma have a positive effect on willingness to pay. Furthermore, developed countries have a higher willingness to pay compared to developing countries. Similarly, visitors of conservation sites have higher willingness to pay than residents. The provided example of a benefit transfer of the estimated function shows the practicability of our results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact Assessment)
Open AccessArticle Freshwater Diatoms as Indicators of Combined Long-Term Mining and Urban Stressors in Junction Creek (Ontario, Canada)
Environments 2018, 5(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020030
Received: 28 December 2017 / Revised: 7 February 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 21 February 2018
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Abstract
Sudbury (Ontario, Canada) has a long mining history that has left the region with a distinctive legacy of environmental impacts. Several actions have been undertaken since the 1970s to rehabilitate this deteriorated environment, in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Despite a marked increase
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Sudbury (Ontario, Canada) has a long mining history that has left the region with a distinctive legacy of environmental impacts. Several actions have been undertaken since the 1970s to rehabilitate this deteriorated environment, in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Despite a marked increase in environmental health, we show that the Junction Creek system remains under multiple stressors from present and past mining operations, and from urban-related pressures such as municipal wastewater treatment plants, golf courses and stormwater runoff. Water samples have elevated metal concentrations, with values reaching up to 1 mg·L−1 Ni, 40 μg·L−1 Zn, and 0.5 μg·L−1 Cd. The responses of diatoms to stressors were observed at the assemblage level (metal tolerant species, nutrient-loving species), and at the individual level through the presence of teratologies (abnormal diatom frustules). The cumulative criterion unit (CCU) approach was used as a proxy for metal toxicity to aquatic life and suggested elevated potential for toxicity at certain sites. Diatom teratologies were significantly less frequent at sites with CCU values <1, suggesting “background” metal concentrations as compared to sites with higher CCU values. The highest percentages of teratologies were observed at sites presenting multiple types of environmental pressures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Toxicology of Trace Metals)
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Open AccessArticle Combining Co-Benefits and Stakeholders Perceptions into Green Infrastructure Selection for Flood Risk Reduction
Environments 2018, 5(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020029
Received: 12 December 2017 / Revised: 6 February 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 18 February 2018
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Abstract
An important increase in flood risk levels is expected in future decades in many areas around the globe. In addition, the traditional approaches for flood management offer options with low sustainability. As a response, the use of non-traditional drainage measures, also called green
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An important increase in flood risk levels is expected in future decades in many areas around the globe. In addition, the traditional approaches for flood management offer options with low sustainability. As a response, the use of non-traditional drainage measures, also called green infrastructures, has been increasingly suggested in the last years. One important reason for their increasing popularity has been the co-benefits that they offer to the environment. The development of an efficient planning for sustainable urban drainage systems is a complex process that needs the involvement of multiple stakeholders. Moreover, the measures to be adopted should be evaluated considering their potential to achieve multiple benefits related to human well-being, rather than just to flood risk management. In this work, we propose a framework for the selection of green infrastructures on the basis of a co-benefits analysis. The aim is to include the achievement of co-benefits and human well-being into decision-making for flood management, considering the stakeholders’ perceptions to define the most important benefits to be enhanced. The application of the framework presented here to a case study in Ayutthaya, Thailand, shows the importance of including different stakeholder’s opinions. In addition, it shows that decision makers should consider locally defined co-benefits as well as flood risk reduction when defining which green infrastructures to apply. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Tailings Dams Failures: Updated Statistical Model for Discharge Volume and Runout
Environments 2018, 5(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020028
Received: 16 January 2018 / Revised: 12 February 2018 / Accepted: 13 February 2018 / Published: 15 February 2018
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Abstract
This paper presents a statistical model to estimate the volume of released tailings (VF) and the maximum distance travelled by the tailings (Dmax) in the event of a tailings dam failure, based on physical parameters of the
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This paper presents a statistical model to estimate the volume of released tailings (VF) and the maximum distance travelled by the tailings (Dmax) in the event of a tailings dam failure, based on physical parameters of the dams. The dataset of historical tailings dam failures is updated from the one used by Rico et al., (Floods from tailings dam failures, Journal of Hazardous Materials, 154 (1) (2008) 79–87) for their regression model. It includes events out of the range of the dams contained in the previous dataset. A new linear regression model for the calculation of Dmax, which considers the potential energy associated with the released volume is proposed. A reduction in the uncertainty in the estimation of Dmax when large tailings dam failures are evaluated, is demonstrated. Since site conditions vary significantly it is important to directly consider the uncertainty associated with such predictions, rather than directly using these types of regression equations. Here, we formally quantify the uncertainty distribution for the conditional estimation of VF and Dmax, given tailings dam attributes, and advocate its use to better represent the tailings dam failure data and to characterize the risk associated with a potential failure. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Sustainable Concrete Performance—CO2-Emission
Environments 2018, 5(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020027
Received: 27 December 2017 / Revised: 8 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 13 February 2018
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Abstract
The balance of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases in the life cycle of concrete is one of the important elements affecting the sustainable development of concrete technology. Modifications in the composition in the aim of minimization of so-called “carbon footprint” of
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The balance of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases in the life cycle of concrete is one of the important elements affecting the sustainable development of concrete technology. Modifications in the composition in the aim of minimization of so-called “carbon footprint” of concrete also affect the majority of its technical features, including primarily the mechanical properties and durability. The article presents a desirability function that would allow us to estimate the combined effect of the modification in terms of both CO2 emissions and some of the technical features of the concrete. As criterial features equivalent CO2 emission, compressive strength and susceptibility/resistance to concrete carbonation are selected. Selected features should be considered as an example for the presentation of the proposed methodology and represent the three pillars of concrete desirability in terms of sustainable development, i.e., the constructional usefulness, durability, and environmental performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Intrahousehold Relations and Environmental Entitlements of Land and Livestock for Women in Rural Kano, Northern Nigeria
Environments 2018, 5(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020026
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 7 February 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 12 February 2018
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Abstract
Gender relations mediate access to the environment in a variety of ways, through formal institutions such as customary law or informal social norms operating at the household level. This is particularly so in rural areas of the global south that are highly dependent
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Gender relations mediate access to the environment in a variety of ways, through formal institutions such as customary law or informal social norms operating at the household level. This is particularly so in rural areas of the global south that are highly dependent on natural resources for livelihoods. The environmental entitlements framework is useful in examining the influence of informal institutions on access to environmental resources among differentiated social actors. In this paper, we use the environmental entitlements framework to map entitlements to land and livestock, and explore the capabilities they provide for women in rural northern Nigeria. The aim of the study was to examine the influence of social norms governing marriage and inheritance on women’s entitlements to land and livestock. The study methods were qualitative and used in-depth interviews and household case studies. We find that environmental entitlements of land and livestock for women are mediated by their relationships to men, through marriage or kinship, and through the different intra household arrangements within marriage, including seclusion, non-seclusion, and polygyny. Women are able to gain command of natural resources through negotiations within these relationships and within the wider social norms governing Hausa society. While these institutions can restrict the capabilities women derive from natural resources, women may delay or forgo entitlements as a means of enhancing their wellbeing. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Socioeconomic Indicators for the Evaluation and Monitoring of Climate Change in National Parks: An Analysis of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park (Spain)
Environments 2018, 5(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020025
Received: 27 November 2017 / Revised: 7 February 2018 / Accepted: 8 February 2018 / Published: 12 February 2018
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Abstract
This paper analyzes the importance of assessing and controlling the social and economic impact of climate change in national parks. To this end, a system of indicators for evaluation and monitoring is proposed for the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, one of the
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This paper analyzes the importance of assessing and controlling the social and economic impact of climate change in national parks. To this end, a system of indicators for evaluation and monitoring is proposed for the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, one of the most important in Spain. Based on the Driving forces-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework, the designed system uses official statistical data in combination with data to be collected through ad hoc qualitative research. The result is a system of indicators that monitors the use of natural resources, the demographic evolution, economic activities, social interactions, and policies. Adapted to different contexts, these indicators could also be used in other national parks and similar natural protected areas throughout the world. This type of indicator system is one of the first to be carried out in Spain’s national parks. The result is a system that can be useful not only in itself, but also one that can catalyze climate change planning and management of national parks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Territorial Management)
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Open AccessArticle Life Cycle Assessment and Water Footprint of Hydrogen Production Methods: From Conventional to Emerging Technologies
Environments 2018, 5(2), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020024
Received: 26 December 2017 / Revised: 19 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 6 February 2018
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Abstract
A common sustainability issue, arising in production systems, is the efficient use of resources for providing goods or services. With the increased interest in a hydrogen (H2) economy, the life-cycle environmental performance of H2 production has special significance for assisting
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A common sustainability issue, arising in production systems, is the efficient use of resources for providing goods or services. With the increased interest in a hydrogen (H2) economy, the life-cycle environmental performance of H2 production has special significance for assisting in identifying opportunities to improve environmental performance and to guide challenging decisions and select between technology paths. Life cycle impact assessment methods are rapidly evolving to analyze multiple environmental impacts of the production of products or processes. This study marks the first step in developing process-based streamlined life cycle analysis (LCA) of several H2 production pathways combining life cycle impacts at the midpoint (17 problem-oriented) and endpoint (3 damage-oriented) levels using the state-of-the-art impact assessment method ReCiPe 2016. Steam reforming of natural gas, coal gasification, water electrolysis via proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEM), solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC), biomass gasification and reforming, and dark fermentation of lignocellulosic biomass were analyzed. An innovative aspect is developed in this study is an analysis of water consumption associated with H2 production pathways by life-cycle stage to provide a better understanding of the life cycle water-related impacts on human health and natural environment. For water-related scope, Water scarcity footprint (WSF) quantified using Available WAter REmaining (AWARE) method was applied as a stand-alone indicator. The paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each production pathway, identify the drivers of environmental impact, quantify midpoint environmental impact and its influence on the endpoint environmental performance. The findings of this study could serve as a useful theoretical reference and practical basis to decision-makers of potential environmental impacts of H2 production systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprint in Life Cycle Assessment: From Theory to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Preferences for Urban Green Space Characteristics: A Comparative Study in Three Portuguese Cities
Environments 2018, 5(2), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020023
Received: 28 December 2017 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 29 January 2018 / Published: 1 February 2018
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Abstract
Many studies have argued that a better understanding of people’s preferences about public urban green spaces may inform urban planners to effectively provide and manage urban green spaces to meet users’ needs. The aim of this study is to examine urban residents preferred
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Many studies have argued that a better understanding of people’s preferences about public urban green spaces may inform urban planners to effectively provide and manage urban green spaces to meet users’ needs. The aim of this study is to examine urban residents preferred public green space characteristics and investigate whether similarities and differences can be highlighted in three different Portuguese cities. Through a web-based questionnaire based on the best-worst scaling (BWS) method, residents of Lisbon, Porto and Évora (n = 750) were asked to select the most and least important public green space characteristic among thirteen attributes. The results suggest a consensus about some green space characteristics across cities but also the existence of some local variations in city residents’ preferences. Overall, this study can support public authorities and urban planners as they strive to effectively design and manage urban green spaces to meet users’ needs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Low-Water Crossings: An Overview of Designs Implemented along Rural, Low-Volume Roads
Environments 2018, 5(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020022
Received: 21 November 2017 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 29 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
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Abstract
Replacement of many old and aging bridges, culverts, and low-water crossings on rural low-volume roads is an increasing concern throughout the United States. The economic burden for many local bodies can be huge if these structures are to be replaced by a bridge
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Replacement of many old and aging bridges, culverts, and low-water crossings on rural low-volume roads is an increasing concern throughout the United States. The economic burden for many local bodies can be huge if these structures are to be replaced by a bridge or culvert. A low-water crossing (LWC) is a feasible and efficient road-stream crossing structure that can be used on these roads as an economical alternative to culverts and bridges. Three types of commonly used LWCs; unvented fords, vented fords and low-water bridges; their selection criteria, environmental considerations, design process, materials selection, signage and permitting requirements are included in this paper. Some of the issues with the existing LWCs are the safety in the crossing and effects on aquatic organism passage and surrounding environment. Through proper design, construction, and installation of proper signage, the functionality and reliability of LWCs can be improved. The study provides engineers and other practitioners in the United States and elsewhere with a proper set of information and design procedures for using LWCs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Evaluation of Alternatives for the Passenger Road Transport Sector in Europe: A Life-Cycle Assessment Approach
Environments 2018, 5(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020021
Received: 1 December 2017 / Revised: 13 January 2018 / Accepted: 24 January 2018 / Published: 30 January 2018
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Abstract
The road passenger transport is responsible for a large share of energy consumption and pollutants emission in Europe. Efforts have been made in the definition of new policies to reduce the environmental impacts of this sector. However, an integrated and consistent assessment of
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The road passenger transport is responsible for a large share of energy consumption and pollutants emission in Europe. Efforts have been made in the definition of new policies to reduce the environmental impacts of this sector. However, an integrated and consistent assessment of the most promising policies is required, using specific European indicators. For that matter, a life-cycle analysis was applied to the road passenger transport, for the European Union with 27 countries (EU27) in 2010, following a basket-of-products methodology and considering three main stages: production, use, and end-of-life of vehicles. Simapro 8 software was used, along with Ecoinvent 3 database and the impact assessment method International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) 2011 Midpoint+. Changes in vehicle production processes, vehicle constitution, and energy sources for vehicle propulsion were analyzed. The policies resulting in a decrease in all impact categories are the use of smaller or lightweight vehicles by positively influencing use, production, and end-of-life of vehicles. The use of more recent vehicles technology or diesel vehicles show substantial reductions in, respectively, five and eight impact categories (out of 15), justifying their adoption in the European fleet. Generally, the most notorious policies compared to the actual transport paradigm, like compressed natural gas (CNG), biofuels, or electric vehicles use, show the greatest reduction in climate change (up to 46%) but also a very significant rise of impacts in the categories that in the conventional basket-of-products already resulted in the worst indicators after normalization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact Assessment)
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Open AccessTechnical Note Analysis of Basic Physical-Chemical Parameters, Nutrients and Heavy Metals Content in Surface Water of Small Catchment Area of Karašica and Vučica Rivers in Croatia
Environments 2018, 5(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020020
Received: 19 December 2017 / Revised: 23 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 27 January 2018
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Abstract
This paper deals with the surface water quality of a small catchment area of the Karašica and Vučica rivers based on the analysis of water physical and chemical parameters according to the national Decree on Water Quality Standards (2013). Water samples were collected
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This paper deals with the surface water quality of a small catchment area of the Karašica and Vučica rivers based on the analysis of water physical and chemical parameters according to the national Decree on Water Quality Standards (2013). Water samples were collected and analysed monthly at five sampling stations situated along the watercourses in the period between 1998 and 2015. Analysed parameters were pH, chemical oxygen demand (COD-Mn), five-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), nutrients: nitrate compounds (nitrates and total nitrogen), phosphorus compounds (orthophosphates and total phosphorus), and the content of heavy metals. The obtained results indicate a water quality status between moderate and good, depending on the parameter and sampling station. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil and Water Contamination, Remediation and Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle Selection of the Best Alternative of Heating System by Environmental Impact Assessment—Case Study
Environments 2018, 5(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5020019
Received: 9 December 2017 / Revised: 22 January 2018 / Accepted: 24 January 2018 / Published: 26 January 2018
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Abstract
The Framework Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources aims at developing the local and regional electricity market in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A comparison study of the proposed activities of construction of a new
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The Framework Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources aims at developing the local and regional electricity market in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A comparison study of the proposed activities of construction of a new biomass-fired power plant or reconstruction of an old one-gas power plant in town located in eastern Slovakia is presented in this paper. The method of the index coefficient was used for choosing the best alternatives. Multicriteria analysis proved that the construction of biomass-fired power plant is the most suitable solution chosen from three assessed variants (no activity is implemented, biomass power plant and modernized gas boiler). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Environmental Engineering)
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