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Multiple-criteria decision analysis for integrated catchment management

  • Prato, Tony
  • Herath, Gamini

Implementation of Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) is hampered by the lack of a conceptual framework for explaining how landowners select farming systems for their properties. Benefit-cost analysis (a procedure that estimates the costs and benefits of alternative actions or policies) has limitations in this regard, which might be overcome by using multiplecriteria decision analysis (MCDA). MCDA evaluates and ranks alternatives based on a landowner’s preferences (weights) for multiple criteria and the values of those criteria. A MCDA approach to ICM is superior to benefit-cost analysis which focuses only on the monetary benefits and costs, because it: 1) recognizes that human activities within a catchment are motivated by multiple and often competing criteria and/or constraints; 2) does not require monetary valuation of criteria; 3) allows trade-offs between criteria to be measured and evaluated; 4) explicitly considers how the spatial configuration of farming systems in a catchment influences the values of criteria; 5) is comprehensive, knowledge-based, and stakeholder oriented which greatly increases the likelihood of resolving catchment problems; and 6) allows consideration of the fairness and sustainability of land and water resource management decisions. A MCDA based on an additive, multiple-criteria utility function containing five economic and environmental criteria was used to score and rank five farming systems. The rankings were based on the average criteria weights for a sample of 20 farmers in a US catchment. The most profitable farming system was the lowest-ranked farming system. Three possible reasons for this result are 2 evaluated. First, the MCDA method might cause respondents to express socially acceptable attitudes towards environmental criteria even when they are not important from a personal viewpoint. Second, the MCDA method could inflate the ranks of less profitable farming systems for the simple reason that it allows the respondent to ass

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 63 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2-3 (August)
Pages: 627-632

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:63:y:2007:i:2-3:p:627-632
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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  1. M. Makowski, 1994. "Methodology and a Modular Tool for Multiple Criteria Analysis of LP Models," Working Papers wp94102, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
  2. Prato, Anthony A. & Fulcher, Christopher L. & Wu, Shunxiang & Ma, Jian, 1996. "Multiple-Objective Decision Making For Agroecosystem Management," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 25(2), October.
  3. Strassert, Gunter & Prato, Tony, 2002. "Selecting farming systems using a new multiple criteria decision model: the balancing and ranking method," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 269-277, February.
  4. G. Fischer & M. Makowski & J. Antoine, 1996. "Multiple Criteria Land Use Analysis," Working Papers wp96006, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
  5. Xu, Feng & Prato, Tony & Ma, Jian, 1995. "A Farm-Level Case Study of Sustainable Agricultural Production," Staff General Research Papers 837, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  6. M. Makowski & L. Somlyody & D. Watkins, 1995. "Multiple Criteria Analysis for Regional Water Quality Management: the Nitra River Case," Working Papers wp95022, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
  7. Cameron, John I., 1997. "Applying socio-ecological economics: A case study of contingent valuation and integrated catchment management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 155-165, November.
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