Integrated Catchment Management

Futures modelling

 Research Status: Ongoing
Futures model for the Motueka River catchment

Futures model for the Motueka River catchment


In New Zealand, there is unease and uncertainty about long-term issues around landscape usage; energy sources; biodiversity; water resources; population changes; etc. etc. As more and more organisations grapple with the concepts and implications of sustainable development, the concept of "Futures Research" gains momentum. The basic idea behind this concept is to build on past and current knowledge to explore the future, develop better plans/strategies, and implement through society (in the broadest sense) to shift to more sustainable forms of development.

Futures research relates strongly to concepts of systems thinking: stocks, flows, feedbacks, resilience, emergent properties, hierarchies; and modelling: systems modeling, multi-agent simulation (MAS) modelling, etc. Coupled social-environmental problems are also characterised by multiple actors with multiple perspectives/values interacting under a variety of cultural and societal processes i.e. governance, regulation, markets, incentives, personal beliefs and values, etc.

Techniques are sought across a wide range of stakeholders to develop and explore future scenarios building on biophysical capability, models and datasets. It is therefore important to develop skills in different modelling techniques and approaches to be able to answer questions around sustainability adequately. Moreover, demand for the development of futures modelling tools in the Nelson and Tasman regions has emerged within New Zealand's environmental legislative context (especially the RMA (1991) and LGA (2001)) and emerging understanding about: (I) the economic outlook of the regions, (ii) concerns about future demographic trends, (iii) increasing settlement pressure and (iv) early indications of natural resource scarcity.

Research Approach

Over the last years, modellers in the ICM programme have developed and explored the use of participatory modelling approaches. This resulted in the development of a series of tools that directly contribute understanding towards the participation dimension and information and knowledge to the model building process. These tools include: (I) a participatory whole system modelling tool called an influence matrix (Cole, 2005), (ii) a 5 year age cohort by individual sex population model (Cole, 2006a; Cole, 2006b), (iii) a model for exploring the potential for participation based on the multiple intelligences (Cole & Maxwell, 2005) and (iv) the development of a stakeholder multi-media CD-ROM used as a communication and scenario tool (Phillips, 2005). The development and use of these tools is providing important understanding about scientists, planners, policy makers, businesses and communities can work together using a shared modelling language to build a sustainable future for New Zealand, its regions and Catchments.

Currently, we are using these social knowledge and tools to define and model human behaviour on land use-land change (LULC) decision making in the Motueka Catchment to develop a multi-agent simulation (MAS) model for the catchment. We are doing this in collaboration with the Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, Oregon State University by adapting a decision support system (EVOLAND) developed by them to the catchment.

EVOLAND was developed as a result of a study in the Willamette Catchment area (Oregon). The main feature of EVOLAND is the definition and evaluation of human and institutional behaviour through policies. In EVOLAND, policies provide the fundamental framework guiding and constraining land use and land management decision making. Policies capture rules, regulations, and incentives promulgated by public agencies in response to social demands for ecological and social goods, as well as factors used by private landowners/land managers to make land and water use decisions.

Recent Publications

Year Title File Size
2012 A Summary of Outcomes and selected formal publications from the Integrated Catchment Management (ICM)research programme:2000 – 2011
pdf       1.08MB
2008 Collaboration and Modelling for Building Resilience – Tools for Integration in the Motueka HELP Catchment pdf       1.73MB
2006 Motueka Catchment futures, transdisciplinarity, a local sustainability problématique and the Achilles–heel of Western science pdf       683KB
2006 The Influence Matrix Methodology: a technical report pdf       874KB
2006 Understanding Whole–of–System Sustainability in the Motueka Catchment: Participatory Modelling with an Influence Matrix pdf       1.12MB
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Recent Presentations

Year Title File Size
2007 Sustainable behaviour modelling pdf       0.29MB
2006 IDEAS conceptual model for Integrated Catchment Management pdf       0.38MB
2005 Sustainable Futures: Strong Transdisciplinarity and Mediated Modelling pdf       0.67MB
2005 Can we model futures scenarios for catchment
management? IDEAS?
pdf       0.79MB
2005 A new tool for integrating catchment knowledge: the ICM CD–ROM. pdf       1.15MB
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Primary Contacts:

No photo available Anthony Cole  EmailSend email to anthony.cole
Phone: +64 27 465 0759
Pansophy Ltd
Ecological economics
Image - Oscar Montes de Oca Oscar Montes de Oca  EmailSend email to monteso
Phone: 06 353 4953
Landcare Research
Ecological economics, systems modelling
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Page last updated Monday, 16 March 2009

Related areas

Futures modelling IDEAS Stakeholder issues Sustaining ecosystem services