Checklists annotate the environmental features or factors that need to be addressed when identifying the impacts of projects and activities. They can vary in complexity and purpose, from a simple checklist to a structured methodology or system that also assigns significance by scaling and weighting the impacts (such as the Battelle Environmental Evaluation System). Both simple and descriptive checklists can be improved and adapted to suit local conditions as experience with their use is gained.
Checklists provide a systematized means of identifying impacts. They also have been developed for application to particular types of projects and categories of impacts (such as dams or road building). Sectoral checklists often are useful when proponents specialise in one particular area of development. However, checklists are not as effective in identifying higher order impacts or the inter-relationships between impacts, and therefore, when using them, consider whether impacts other than those listed may be important.