Developing decision support systems for integrated coastal management in the tropics: is the ICM decision-making environment too complex for the development of a useable and useful DSS?

S Westmacott
Journal of Environmental Management 2001, 62 (1): 55-74
Integrated coastal management in the tropics requires the conservation of vulnerable and diverse ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves as well as the management of land and marine-based human activities. Decision-making for integrated coastal management involves multiple decision-makers and multiple stakeholders often with conflicting needs and interests. Decision support systems can be developed to improve our understanding of the inter-relationships between the natural and socio-economic variables and hence result in improved decision-making. The question is whether this decision making environment is actually too complex for the development of useful and useable decision support systems. This paper describes the components of the decision making environment and the components of a decision support system. It also explores the various techniques available to deal with different modelling needs, the constraints of inadequate data and the multi-objective decision making environment. In addition, different techniques of developing decision support systems can play important roles within integrated coastal management. Three coastal decision support systems are evaluated in terms of their design and role in integrated coastal management and are used to evaluate the potential to develop decision support systems for integrated coastal management.

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