Strategic Environmental Assessment

Strategic environment assessment in general is defined as a, systematic and proactive process which helps in evaluating the policies and programs and comes out with the possible consequences on the environment. While assessing the impacts a considerate view is also taken of its economic and social considerations as well. It is worthwhile here to mention that strategic environment assessment (SEA) takes precedence over the EIA i.e. project environmental impact assessment (UNECE, 2003).
A number of water tributaries merging into a main stream with the help of an area of land called watershed holds key to the availability of water for the that region. Watershed management calls for maintaining an eye on the quality and quantity of water resources and initiating proactive efforts for preserving these resources for longer durations. It essentially involves planning the efforts, collecting the data from different sources, assessing and evaluating the data, development of requisite strategies and then implementation of the strategies. Watershed management strategies differ from region to region depending upon the topography of the terrain and availability of the resources. If due attention is not accorded to the watershed region, situation may go out of hand in due course. For example, inflows into the Saguling reservoir in Indonesia have been decreasing over a period of time. Due to watershed degradation the dry season flow into the reservoir was found to be around 38 percent of the average annual flow between 1986 and 1991. This percentage went further down to 36 percent between 1992 and 1997 and to 34 percent in 1998 (ADB, 2006). Therefore SEA helps in preparing an early warning system for taking care of the environmental concerns.
With an effective environmental policy and legislative framework in place, Thailand has been paying due attention towards its environmental requirements and focusing on environmental and energy concerns at the national and provincial levels. But, the environment management faces a stiff challenge in view of the rapid industrialization in the country. The country is mainly divided into 7 river basins with further sub-division into 25 drainage areas1. In order to manage the watershed region, the river basins and drainage areas have to be kept in good shape so that the charging system of earth is not blocked. Thailand has forestland stretching over 2000 kilometers from north to south with varied climatic conditions and a coastline. The clear and muddy waters too lap productive mudflats (Datamonitor, 2009). The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is therefore meant to serve as a promotional tool for expanding the adoption of policies towards preserving the watershed areas. Thailand shares three rivers with its neighbors Myanmar, Malaysia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
The strategic environment assessment calls not only for assessing the status of watershed areas, but it also requires the experts to consider the management of all the relevant stakeholders. Some of the key stakeholders in this venture include landowners, local businesses, Farmers, industries, city officials, environmental activists etc. The diversity of these groups and their interests often creates a situation where it becomes very difficult to carry out the maintenance of the land, vegetation and water resources of the drainage basin. If the strategic policies are