Author(s) Clarisse Martins Gonçalves
Advisor(s) Andreia Sofia Pinto Oliveira
Year 2015

Synopsis The starting point of this master thesis is a very actual and international concern, due to its potential repercussions on future’s Earth: the loss of biological diversity. Biological diversity is crucial for ecosystems’ good functioning, in which Man is a part, providing products and services, from which he depends for living. Nevertheless, various are its threats, many of them resulting from human activity. Habitat loss and degradation, introduction of invasive alien species, over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution and climate change confirm that fact. Fighting the problem of biological diversity loss implies, therefore, having conscience of that causes. On the other hand, considering the complexity and lack of data or knowledge permitting to understand its real extension, it also implies dealing with some degree of uncertainty. As a result, the approach to consider in implementing activities with (potential) negative consequences on the ecosystems, as well as on species and habitats that, individually and in correlation, define those ecosystems, must be a preventive and precautious one. That’s the way European legislation is delineated, and in this sense is the ruling of the European Court of Justice. Environmental Impact Assessment constitutes, therefore, an important and unavoidable response mechanism to biological diversity loss. However, considering that, as far as environmental impact assessment is concerned, tacit authorisation remains the national juridical solution to administrative silence, the present work points out the special inadequacy of the in force response to guarantee reflection and prudence obligations underlying biodiversity conservation.

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