Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Development of a Decision Support System (DSS) for Southern European lagoons

One of the objectives of the DITTY project was the development (WP8) of a prototypal Decision Support System (DSS) for the management of Southern European lagoons. By integrating different kinds of mathematical and analytical models, the developed DSS is able to simulate and analyse the effects on the ecosystem of multiple factors (e.g. lagoon fluid dynamics, river runoff influence, nutrients cycles, shellfish farming, macro-algal blooms, etc.), as well as the economical implications of different management options. It provides the local or national authorities with suitable techniques for assessing the effectiveness of actions designed to achieve a good environment quality status, as described, e.g., in the Water Framework Directive.

Implementations and tests of the decision support system were accomplished in five lagoon sites: Ria Formosa (Portugal), Mar Menor (Spain), Etang de Thau (France), Sacca di Goro (Italy), and Gera (Greece). The choice of these sites was mainly dictated by their similar characteristics but different management issues to be solved. Moreover, long-term data sets were accessible, and each partner of the project had developed good working contacts with local and regional authorities ensuring the exchange of data and information.

The characteristics of the DITTY DSS made it a very flexible structure into which decision problems of different types and at different levels of complexity can be easily cast. Indeed, flexibility of the DSS structure was a key issue for the designers, since the project case studies pursued different objectives, and were carried out in different geographical and socio-economic contexts, so that only a robust tool could be capable of facing these challenges.

Based on the above considerations, the DITTY DSS represents a valuable contribution whose significance and applicability go beyond the specific targets of the project. Although the DSS development was initially directed to Mediterranean lagoons, in a wider European perspective the proposed DSS structure is in principle applicable to all types of coastal lagoons, for example in the Baltic, Black Sea, North Sea and along the Atlantic Coast, and even more generally to "transition systems". To a larger extent, the proposed structure may help successful DSS design in many (not only environmental) applications, thus contributing to spread the concepts of decision support and multi-criteria analysis, and making them accessible to a broader audience.

Indeed, the proposed structure, which is the result of an effort of simplification and abstraction, makes the decision process and the use of models more transparent to stakeholders, but also to model developers, who might not have the know-how in the field of decision support and optimisation. In particular, the concept of robustness of the decision is clearly made accessible by explicitly taking into account all the sources of uncertainties, i.e. factors that are beyond the control of the decision maker.

A prototypal user interface was developed for the DSS application to the Sacca di Goro lagoon.

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