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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    • "The mainly used sustainability assessment methodology is an indicator-based assessment based upon setting environmental and socio-economic criteria that are used to evaluate and to monitor the multi-dimensional aspects of sustainability [18]. For example, Graymore et al. [14] proposed a decision support system (DSS) incorporating sustainability indicators with a multi-criteria decision analysis and a Geographic Information System (GIS) in order to assess the regional sustainability in southwest Victoria. Loucks and Gladwell [16] proposed a sustainability index methodology for water resource systems using a weighted combination of the reliability, resiliency, and vulnerability performance criteria. "
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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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