Leo Lentsch [Georgetown, USA], Amy Rucker
Conservation Biologist Perspective
Water resource planning takes place in a complex environment of competing objectives, values, policies and science. Structured decision making (SDM) involves the organized analysis of problems using clearly defined objectives. This method creates a transparent process for making decisions that can also be used to build consensus and understanding among stakeholders. In an increasingly challenging arena for planning and implementing conservation, transparency is essential as are methods for increasing understanding of tradeoffs among different stakeholder group. SDM can provide an important framework for conservation decisions. We discuss the use of decision support tools within the SDM framework and provide examples of the application of these tools to water resource management. These examples will provide an understanding of the SDM stepwise process including defining the problem, establishing objectives, understanding the outcomes of various alternatives, establishing tradeoffs, and optimizing results. The challenges and values of the SDM approach, the process for integrating stakeholders if desired, data analysis, and actionable outcomes will also be discussed.