The South Florida Ecosystem Portfolio Model (EPM) prototype is a regional land-use planning Web tool that integrates ecological, economic, and social information and values of relevance to decision-makers and stakeholders. The EPM uses a multicriteria evaluation framework that builds on geographic information system-based (GIS) analysis and spatially-explicit models that characterize important ecological, economic, and societal endpoints and consequences that are sensitive to regional land-use/land-cover (LULC) change. The EPM uses both economics (monetized) and multiattribute utility (nonmonetized) approaches to valuing these endpoints and consequences. This hybrid approach represents a methodological middle ground between rigorous economic and ecological/ environmental scientific approaches. The EPM sacrifices some degree of economic- and ecological-forecasting precision to gain methodological transparency, spatial explicitness, and transferability, while maintaining credibility. After all, even small steps in the direction of including ecosystem services evaluation are an improvement over current land-use planning practice (Boyd and Wainger, 2003).
There are many participants involved in land-use decision-making in South Florida, including local, regional, State, and Federal agencies, developers, environmental groups, agricultural groups, and other stakeholders (South Florida Regional Planning Council, 2003, 2004). The EPM's multicriteria evaluation framework is designed to cut across the objectives and knowledge bases of all of these participants. This approach places fundamental importance on social equity and stakeholder participation in land-use decision-making, but makes no attempt to determine normative socially 'optimal' land-use plans. The EPM is thus a map-based set of evaluation tools for planners and stakeholders to use in their deliberations of what is 'best', considering a balancing of disparate interests within a regional perspective. Although issues of regional ecological sustainability can be explored with the EPM (for example, changes in biodiversity potential and regional habitat fragmentation), it does not attempt to define or evaluate long-term ecological sustainability as such. Instead, the EPM is intended to provide transparent first-order indications of the direction of ecological, economic, and community change, not to make detailed predictions of ecological, economic, and social outcomes. In short, the EPM is an attempt to widen the perspectives of its users by integrating natural and social scientific information in a framework that recognizes the diversity of values at stake in South Florida land-use planning.
For terrestrial ecosystems, land-cover change is one of the most important direct drivers of changes in ecosystem services (Hassan and others, 2005). More specifically, the fragmentation of habitat from expanding low-density development across landscapes appears to be a major driver of terrestrial species decline and the impairment of terrestrial ecosystem integrity, in some cases causing irreversible impairment from a land-use planning perspective (Brody, 2008; Peck, 1998). Many resource managers and land-use planners have come to realize that evaluating land-use conversions on a parcel-by-parcel basis leads to a fragmented and narrow view of the regional effects of natural land-cover loss to development (Marsh and Lallas, 1995). The EPM is an attempt to integrate important aspects of the coupled natural-system/human-system view from a regional planning perspective.
The EPM evaluates proposed land-use changes, both conversion and intensification, in terms of relevant ecological, economic, and social criteria that combine information about probable land-use outcomes, based on ecological and environmental models, as well as value judgments, as expressed in user-modifiable preference models. Based on on-going meetings and interviews with stakeholders and potential tool users we foc
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The South Florida Ecosystem Portfolio Model - A Map-Based Multicriteria Ecological, Economic, and Community Land-Use Planning Tool