Science in collaborative water planning: using Bayesian Networks for multi-objective decision-making

@ATREE auditorium at 3:45 p.m. on Monday, 1st September, 2014

Abstract: In New Zealand, planning for freshwater quality and quantity management increasingly is being passed from regional government to collaborative stakeholder groups (CSGs). Comprising major water users and communities of interest, CSGs typically identify a wide variety of ecological, economic, social and cultural values related to a river watershed, values that interact in highly complex ways. Making good policy and management decisions in this context requires a sound scientific understanding of the watershed, including its hydrology, nutrient dynamics and ecology. However, detailed knowledge of economic, social and cultural aspects is also required in order to meet the wide range of objectives identified. Since the members of collaborative stakeholder groups come with various levels of knowledge about the watershed, they require tools to support their decision-making.

Bayesian Networks (BNs) are increasingly being used worldwide in this context. They represent the key components of a system, linking decisions with outcomes through cause-effect relationships. The relationshipsare defined probabilistically, allowing BNs to include aspects of a system for which knowledge is incomplete. BNs are highly flexible models, combiningscience with other forms of knowledge and representing them in an intuitive, visual way. They are useful for collaborative planning as they arehighly interactive and bring transparency to policy and management decisions. I will discuss how Bayesian Networks have been used to support a collaborative planning process with robust science on the east coast of New Zealand.

About Richard Storey: Richard Storey is an aquatic ecologist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Hamilton, New Zealand. His areas of research include biological monitoring of river health, the ecology of stream restoration, urban stream ecology, intermittent stream ecology and nitrogen cycling in stream-wetland systems. Recently he has become involved in collaborative planning of freshwater resources, using Bayesian Networks to support decision-making. He has a Ph.D. in aquatic ecology from University of Toronto, Canada. Richard is also involved with A Rocha, a conservation NGO that operates in New Zealand, India and 18 other countries. He is married to Liza and has two pre-school children, Alana and Rohan.