Reports and Papers

Fedra, K. (1995)
Decision support for natural resources management:
Models, GIS and expert systems.
AI Applications, 9/3 (1995) pp 3-19.


Natural resources are the basis of human welfare in developing as well as in developed societies. Their prudent management has to satisfy an ever increasing demand, driven by population growth and changes in lifestyle, and at the same time meet an increasing set of constraints and concerns of environmental impacts and resource depletion and degradation.

All these driving forces of development, acting in concert and often reinforcing each other, make better and more efficient tools for decision support in planning and management increasingly important. Better, but not necessarily more information directly useful to a larger number of participants in more open and participatory decision making processes is urgently needed.

The management of natural resources requires the integration of often very large volumes of disparate information from numerous sources; the coupling of this information with efficient tools for assessment and evaluation that allow broad, interactive participation in the planning, assessment, and decision making process; and effective methods of communicating results and findings to a broad audience.

Information technology, and in particular, the integration of data base management systems, GIS, remote sensing and image processing, simulation and multi-criteria optimization models, expert systems, and computer graphics provide some of the tools for effective decision support in natural resources management.

A number of examples from different domains of natural resources and environmental management are presented, which illustrate a few of the important concepts of effective decision support systems. Based on a common, object-oriented architecture these systems combine models, GIS, and expert systems in a number of customized implementations for specific decision support problems. The integration of complex and powerful software tools in problem oriented systems provides direct and easy access to large volumes of data. It supports their interactive analysis and helps to display and interpret results in a format directly understandable and useful for decision making processes. Integrated information systems can support a more interactive, exploratory, and participatory, and thus useful and effective approach to natural resources planning and management.

© Copyright 1995-2018 by:   ESS   Environmental Software and Services GmbH AUSTRIA | print page