Decision support tools

Decision support tools (DSTs) help catchment management authorities and other land managers make better decisions about managing natural resources. DSTs usually include a combination of information databases, models and maps. DSTs can help land managers select, implement or evaluate the impacts of a range of different land use management options. Although DSTs add objectivity and rigour to the decision making process, they do not replace expert local knowledge. Many DSTs rely on the input of expert opinion as there may be many factors influencing investment decisions.

Land Use Options Simulator

The Land Use Options Simulator (LUOS) is an innovative computer-based program that evaluates the impact of changing land use at the property and catchment level. The simulator predicts how land use changes made at the property level lead to changes to the water yield and salt load exported from the catchment.

LUOS uses spatial information, such as land use, topography, soils, climate and salinity, plus non-spatial information such as gross margins to predict the environmental and on-farm economic impacts of land use change.

In the case of salinity, spatial data layers are available to locate the dominant source areas of salt and water in a catchment. This information can help target actions to reduce salinity in areas that have high salt exports relative to water yields so managers can get the best value from their investment.

LUOS will help catchment management authorities and farmers make better decisions about investing in land use changes. For example, LUOS can evaluate the impact of planting trees on 30 hectares of land previously used for cropping, to indicate:

  • the best place to plant the trees
  • the economic impact of changing land use
  • the expected change in water yield and salt loads.

LUOS incorporates several toolkits to evaluate of a range of environmental services such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity, soil and nutrient retention, and coastal acid sulfate soils.

NRM Options

NRM Options is a new tool developed under the NSW Salinity Strategy that promises to revolutionise the way the natural resource management knowledge is communicated. It will ensure that the latest and best scientific thinking on natural resource management is available, in an easy to use format, to farmers, government officers and catchment management authorities.

NRM Options is a database that combines knowledge management principles with innovative web technology to deliver practical advice about implementing on-ground management options via the Internet.

Knowledge for each management option will include nuts and bolts information such as:

  • the advantages and production risks associated with the options,
  • criteria that can be used to fit an option to a site
  • how to design the option for your site, and
  • how to put it on the ground (ie site preparation, maintenance etc).

NRM Options will improve the delivery of salinity and other natural resource management advice by providing quality assured knowledge on which to base management option decisions. The improvement to services is expected to come from an increase in the quality and consistency of decision-making.

Page last updated: 26 February 2011