Self-organising map methods in integrated modelling of environmental and economic systems
Shanmuganathan, S; Sallis, P; Buckeridge, J
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The need for better techniques, tools and practices to analyse ecological and economic systems in an integrated framework has never been so great. Self-organising map 1 (SOM) methods are utilised for this purpose with two examples using regional and global data (ecological and economic) compiled by state and international institutions i.e. Waikato Regional Council and the World Bank. Sustainable ecosystem management through holistic or interdisciplinary approaches such the triple bottom line, 4Es (economics, ecology, ethics and engineering) concepts has been emphasised for a long time now. Many national and international institutions have been investigating for integrated, forward looking management practices i.e. integrated assessment management (IAM) by scientists and the pressure, state and response (PSR) model by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Resources Institute, the World Bank and Ministry for the Environment, New Zealand. Despite these efforts our understanding of ecosystem response to human influence is insufficient to carry out proper impact assessment on proposed developmental activities. Thus, in practice the implementation of sustainable environmental management seems remote. While the environmentalists and developers wrangle over the reliability of current environmental impact assessment practices and their results ecosystems continue to deteriorate, with commensurate biodiversity loss. The examples of this paper utilising SOMs to analyse disparate data sets at these different scales produce potential for future use: (i) regional, from river water quality monitoring to evaluate ecosystem response to human influence and (ii) global, for modelling environmental and economic data and trade-off analysis within an integrated framework to inform sustainable environmental management.