Environmental assessment for major development projects: A case study “Qattara Depression”

Document Type


Publication Date



The environmental assessment plays an important role in guiding the planning process. This requires employing advanced tools and methods such as the Geographic information system (GIS) to back the decision-making process. The study presents the application on a case study “Qattara Depression”- a 20,000 Km 2 development project which has received a lot of attention; on one hand, for its expected benefits to achieve Egypt 2030 national plan in terms of clean electricity generation, while, on the other hand, some concerns have been raised regarding its environmental consequences. The study centers on the project's desalination development scenario considering five main environmental impacts; loss of biodiversity and threats to natural habitat, hydrogeological environmental impact, land use effect and terrestrial impact, impacts on marine life as well as natural hazards and casualties. The study uses the GIS overlaying and querying tools to determine and categorize the problematic areas into major, moderate and minor impact areas, in addition to providing recommendations for addressing their associated challenges. As a preliminary step, the study defines the limits of the area of interest (AOI) in terms of its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and the River Nile. Each impact is represented with feature datasets including a number of feature classes. Then, the buffering impact area of each individual feature class is defined and overlaid to determine the extent of impacts for the proposed scenario. It is found that the critical sensitive areas are located in the northeastern tip and the western part of the AOI. This indicates that these areas should receive careful attention while planning for any kind of development activities. The results contribute towards setting a comprehensive clue to support the strategic planning objectives and mitigation measures for this huge development project in the Western Desert area.