An Index of Regional Sustainability: a GIS-based multiple criteria analysis decision support system for progressing sustainability. Ecol Complex

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology, Deakin University, Australia
Ecological Complexity (Impact Factor: 1.93). 12/2009; 6(4):453-462. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecocom.2009.08.006


GIS (Geographical Information Systems) based decision support tools will be useful in helping guide regions to sustainability. These tools need to be simple but effective at identifying, for regional managers, areas most in need of initiatives to progress sustainability. Multiple criteria analysis (MCA) has been used as a decision support tool for a wide number of applications, as it provides a systematic framework for evaluating various options. It has the potential to be used as a tool for sustainability assessment, because it can bring together the sustainability criteria from all pillars, social, economic and environmental, to give an integrated assessment of sustainability. Furthermore, the use of GIS and MCA together is an emerging addition to conducting sustainability assessments.This paper further develops a sustainability assessment framework developed for the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority region of Victoria, Australia by providing a GIS-based decision support system for regional agencies. This tool uses multiple criteria analysis in a GIS framework to assess the sustainability of sub-catchments in the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment. The multiple criteria analysis based on economic, social and environmental indicators developed in previous stages of this project was used as the basis to build a model in ArcGIS®. The GIS-based multiple criteria analysis, called An Index of Regional Sustainability Spatial Decision Support System (AIRS SDSS), produced maps showing sub-catchment sustainability, and environmental, social and economic condition. As a result, this tool is able to highlight those sub-catchments most in need of assistance with achieving sustainability. It will also be a valuable tool for evaluation and monitoring of strategies for sustainability. This paper shows the usefulness of GIS-based multiple criteria analysis to enhance the monitoring and evaluation of sustainability at the regional to sub-catchment scale.

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    • "In fact, the maps of criteria identify all suitable areas and the experts' judgements allow classifying these areas on a scale from suitable to optimal (scale of suitability). WLC is one of the most used decision methods in GIS (Dragan et al., 2003; Eastman, 1999; Graymore et al., 2009; P erez et al., 2005; Sim~ ao et al., 2009 Wang et al., 2010), because it is easy to implement using map algebra operations and geospatial overlay. Moreover, linear combination is an intuitive and powerful method to create realistic scenarios easy-to-understand for decisionmakers (Malczewski, 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: Mariculture is a relatively new activity that is expanding globally and interacts with other coastal uses. Therefore, it is necessary to allocate suitable sites from environmental, economic and social points of view, involving different stakeholders in the decision-making process. In particular, in the Ligurian Sea (Italy), for its environmental characteristics and tradition, fish farming should be further boosted and an accurate marine spatial planning should be done. This paper presents a spatial multi-criteria evaluation (SMCE) addressed to identify suitable areas for siting offshore medium size fish farms in the Ligurian Sea at the regional scale. The SMCE procedure follows an integrated approach that can be potentially adapted and applied to any coastal system. The site selection is based on the definition of criteria that assess their suitability and on conditions related to the entire study area. Suitability values are ranked on a scale from 1 (suitable) to 10 (optimal). More than 9000 ha were identified and almost 40% of this area gets high suitability values, from 7 to 9, pointing out the untapped potential for Ligurian marine coastal zone. Results demonstrate that our SMCE, and in particular its procedure, allows identifying the most suitable areas in an easy and quick way and solving effectively the complex spatial problem of suitable site selection for fish farming.
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    • "In other words, the complexity of the SDSS limits the involvement of general users. Inserting value judgments is an advantage of using SDSS, but also one of the problems in MCDA, as the methods require experts to place importance on each criterion (Ascough et al., 2002; Malczewski, 2006; Graymore et al., 2009). The problem is that the availability of expert knowledge is limited. "
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    • "The characteristics of coupled human–environment systems remain difficult to measure, model and quantify by empirical methods (see Zurlini et al., 2006; Graymore et al., 2009). The emphasis in ecosystem conservation studies has traditionally been on species and biodiversity conservation. "
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