Decision making with environmental indices

By: , and 
Edited by: A.R. Burk



Since Ott's seminal book on environmental indices (1978), the use of indices has expanded into several natural resource disciplines, including ecological studies, environmental policymaking, and agricultural economics. However, despite their increasing use in natural resource disciplines, researchers and public decision makers continue to express concern about validity of these instruments to capture and communicate multidimensional, and sometimes disparate, characteristics of research data and stakeholder interests. Our purpose is to demonstrate how useful indices can be for communicating environmental information to decision makers. We discuss how environmental indices have evolved over four stages: 1) simple; 2) compound multicriteria; 3) the impact matrix and 4) disparate stakeholder management. We provide examples of simple and compound indices that were used by policy decision makers. We then build a framework, called an Impact Matrix (IM), that comprehensively accounts for multiple indices but lets the user decide how to integrate them. The IM was shaped from the concept of a financial risk payoff matrix and applied to ecosystem risk. While the IM offers flexibility, it does not address stakeholder preferences about which index to use. Therefore, the last phase in our evolutionary ladder includes stakeholder indices to specifically address disparate stakeholder preferences. Finally, we assert that an environmental index has the potential to increase resource efficiency, since the number of decision making resources may be reduced, and hence improve upon resource productivity

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Decision making with environmental indices
Chapter 7
ISBN 1-59454-379-8
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Publisher location New York, NY
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 24 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title New trends in ecology research
First page 159
Last page 182
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