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Meeting the Growing Need for Land-Water System Modelling to Assess Land Management Actions

journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-21, 03:51 authored by Scott Larned, Ton Snelder
Elevated contaminant levels and hydrological alterations resulting from land use are degrading aquatic ecosystems on a global scale. A range of land management actions may be used to reduce or prevent this degradation. To select among alternative management actions, decision makers require predictions of their effectiveness, their economic impacts, estimated uncertainty in the predictions, and estimated time lags between management actions and environmental responses. There are multiple methods for generating these predictions, but the most rigorous and transparent methods involve quantitative modelling. The challenge for modellers is two-fold. First, they must employ models that represent complex land-water systems, including the causal chains linking land use to contaminant loss and water use, catchment processes that alter contaminant loads and flow regimes, and ecological responses in aquatic environments. Second, they must ensure that these models meet the needs of endusers in terms of reliability, usefulness, feasibility and transparency. Integrated modelling using coupled models to represent the land-water system can meet both challenges and has advantages over alternative approaches. The need for integrated land-water system modelling is growing as the extent and intensity of human land use increases, and regulatory agencies seek more effective land management actions to counter the adverse effects. Here we present recommendations for modelling teams, to help them improve current practices and meet the growing need for land-water system models. The recommendations address several aspects of integrated modelling: (1) assembling modelling teams; (2) problem framing and conceptual modelling; (3) developing spatial frameworks; (4) integrating economic and biophysical models; (5) selecting and coupling models.


Funded by the New Zealand Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment's Our Land and Water National Science Challenge (Toitū te Whenua, Toiora te Wai) as part of project Mapping Freshwater Contaminants


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  • English

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Journal title

Environmental Management

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