Established in 2006, Habitat works with companies and governments to assess the health of communities, the factors that influence it, and how social, economic or physical change might impact community health.

Our team consists of population health professionals skilled at working with complex and nuanced data.


The 2014 Ebola Outbreak: Indirect Impacts and Mining Company Relations

Location: Sierra Leone, Africa

Habitat worked in partnership with Independent Social Performance to examine how the 2014/15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa affected relationships between mining companies and host communities in Sierra Leone. Interviews were held with local community members, mining company personnel and NGO staff at three time points: prior to, at the height of and at the tail end of the outbreak.  


Health Impact Assessment, Qatar

Location: Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar

Habitat worked with several major industrial players to identify how the unique social and physical environment of Ras Laffan Industrial City was impacting health. Our deliverables included a health impact assessment and a Health Action Plan with mitigation measures to minimize risks and improve health supports.



Health Impact Assessment, LNG Facility

Location: British Columbia

Habitat undertook the community health effects assessment as part of an integrated environmental assessment for an LNG facility in northern British Columbia. Habitat interviewed over 50 individuals in key organizations as well as in First Nation communities to better understand potential effects on infectious disease transmission, mental well-being, public safety, diet and nutrition,socio-economic health effects and Aboriginal health.

IFC Compliance, Gold Mine

Location: Burkina Faso, Africa

Habitat provided technical assistance to guide a local consulting firm in the preparation of an IFC-compliant ESHIA. Habitat generated tools based on Performance Standard 4 to assist in preparation of baseline and assessment studies. During field visits, Habitat conducted focus groups in all affected villages and held meetings with stakeholders at the national, regional, and local level. 




HIA Training for Mongolian Government

Location: Dalanzadgad, Mongolia

The Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI) and the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research (CCGHR) partnered with Mongolian organizations to host a two-week institute on institutionalizing HIA within newly adopted legislation.  Habitat provided training over a 10-day period to government agencies and representatives from international agencies from Canada, Zambia and Tanzania.  The training resulted in an implementation plan for the key areas of: stakeholder engagement, capacity building, and legislative requirements for EIS and TOR.

Indicators of Health and Wellbeing in the Context of Resource Development

Location: Barrow, Alaska

Alongside the North Slope Borough Department of Health and Social Services, Habitat compiled readily available health, social, and environmental indicators that could be monitored over time, and that were closely related to resource development in the North Slope Borough. The selection of indicators took into consideration Iñupiat culture and the unique environment of the NSB. It is intended that this report will be updated every 5 years to enable better health monitoring and a better understanding of the potential health impacts of industry in the north. 



Marla Orenstein is the President and founder of Habitat, and President-Elect of the International Association for Impact Assessment. An epidemiologist and an international leader in the field of Health Impact Assessment, Marla’s work at Habitat allows her to indulge her interest in international exploration with her passion for bringing structure, order and clarity to unruly data. Marla is currently Chair of the Publications Committee for the International Association of Impact Assessment, and is a founding member of the Society for Practitioners of Health Impact Assessment.  She also co-authored the textbook Health Impact Assessment in the United States, which was published by Springer in 2014. Marla holds an M.Sc. in Epidemiology from the University of Edinburgh.


Murray Lee is the co-founder of Habitat.  A practicing physician and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary, Murray works primarily with Aboriginal populations in Nunavut and other northern locations across Canada and the U.S. Murray has made a career out of studying how “place” affects health and advises on Habitat’s HIAs and other population health projects. Murray received his medical degree from the University of Calgary and holds an M.P.H. from the University of California, Berkeley.



Erica Westwood is an experienced public health and social science researcher and has consulted with governments, industries and communities to help promote health and wellbeing. Her previous experience includes global health and development research, primarily in Guatemala and Tanzania where she was involved in community health programming. Since joining Habitat, Erica has worked on health and quality of life issues related to resource development.  Her work has promoted community health within the context of extractive and major infrastructure projects.  Among her interests are outbreak preparedness, stakeholder engagement, community development and technological innovation.  Erica holds a BHSc in Health and Society from the University of Calgary and an MSc in Global Health from McMaster University.  She is a member of the Society of Practitioners of Health Impact Assessment (SOPHIA) as well as the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research (CCGHR).