Developing ISO 14001 Aspects and Impacts List - Seeking Help


Wilf from Sask

First time user.

Background notes: In most of Canada the provincial governments own the forest lands and awards long term (10-20 year) supply license to forest companies to harvest trees on the provincial own land. The forest companies are required to submit many different plans for approval before any timber can be cut. Often in theses plan the forest company will make detailed commitments. ISO 14000 has been successfully adopted by many of these forest companies woodlands operations (not the mill) where their operational controls focus around fuel management for the logging equipment, road building techniques, harvesting methods, and collecting the data and information to prepare plans for government approval.

I work for the government department that issues these long-term supply licenses, approves the various plans and conducts inspections in the field to see if these plans are followed (a legal requirement) along with legal compliance with provincial regulations.

We are struggling with our Aspect list as we are really just paper pushers and never make a widget.

Two schools of thought have a merged.

(our factory line model).
Our products and services ? are ?granting of approvals? (output) to allow others to impact the environment. Our aspect should be around providing better directions (output) to preparing plans (we have existing guidebooks we give to industry),better approval conditions (output). Inputs to our factory is improving our understanding (research and studies) of forests in order to make better approvals.

Or (stewardship of the land model)
Our role as government is protecting the long term the health of the land and we should focus on health indicators such as soil compaction, slash levels, wildlife tree nest protection, bad road building, reforestation success etc. Our ranking of aspects will be which indicators are not well. The thought is goverment is the one who are finally responsible for impacts and the factory model outputs are just operational controls.

Any thoughts?


It looks to me like your factory line model is a good list of aspects since these are your actual activities. You stewardship model sounds more like envrionmental programs and monitoring/measurement. If I understand correctly I see examples as:

Aspect = Issue of logging permits
Impacts = Reduction of forest, erosion, damage to nests, etc.

If you deem them significant impacts you could have:

Programs = Reforestation, improvement of soil compaction, etc.
Measurements = % forestation, nests lost, etc.

I am not sure if you would want to base your significance determination on which are not currently well. You also want to look at the potentials of your actions. If you issue too many permits it could have a significant negative impact. You would need controls to prevent over-issue of permits.

Overall it looks to me like you are on the right track.

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Super Moderator
Think of Aspects and Impacts as having a "cause and effect" relationship.

Aspects are anything related to "your" activities, products & services that can have either a positive or negative effect upon the environment. This also includes those Aspects related to abnormal and emergency type situations.

Impacts are the actual or potential positive or negative effects that your Aspects have upon the environment. These are also those that may come out of abnormal or emergency situations.

What you need to do is to list your Aspects and then determine what the actual or potential effects they may have on the environment are. Once you do this you then move on to making a determination of which ones (Aspects) are significant.

I'll be covering this stuff in Toronto in a couple of weeks during an ISO 14001 Implementation course.....maybe you ought to look at taking one from a training provider to help give you some more background. There are many good ones in Canada, not just the ones I represent.

Wilf from Sask

with or without Operational controls?

New thing came up.

Should we rank the environmental aspect with or without our exisitng opertional controls?

If you already have operatinal controls inplace (pre-ISO) and they are working -- won't your risk be less?



Super Moderator
You can use the controls you have in place to help you determine the significance of your aspects.

Remember, you need to put controls (4.4.6) in place to manage those aspects that have or can have a significant impact on the environment (you determine that also).
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