Decision support systems for ecosystems management: A Singerian approach to urban infrastructure decision-making


1,2 James F. Courtney, Sandra Richardson and David Paradice Sustainable development and ecosystems management The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) suggests that development is sustainable when it ‘meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (www.wbscd.ch). Sustainable development is a strategy by which communities seek economic development approaches that preserve and maintain the local environment and enhance the quality of life. Through this approach a framework is provided under which communities can protect environmental resources by using resources efficiently, create efficient infrastructures, protect and enhance quality of life, and create new businesses to strengthen their economies (US Dept. of Energy, 2001). Ecosystems management attempts to deal with complex environmental issues by fostering sustainable development that recognizes the complex web of natural, economic, social and political factors that affect environmental systems. Effective management of these systems requires an understanding of their properties and in particular knowledge of the dynamics of these systems, and the cultures that rely upon them (Mäler, 2000). The United Nations sponsored a global study on the conditions of the world’s principal ecosystems. A report emanating from this study states alarmingly that ‘The current rate of decline in the long-term productive capacity of ecosystems could have devastating implications for human development and the welfare of all species’ (United Nations et al., 2000, p. 6). The report calls for an ecosystems approach to managing the world’s resources. This approach emphasizes the ‘system’ in….

Publication Title

Handbook of Sustainable Development Planning: Studies in Modelling and Decision Support