Facilitating informed land-use decisions through the modelling of ecosystem service trade-offs
Increasing global populations are placing increasing pressure on our natural systems, reducing their capacity to produce the ecosystem services that we rely upon for human wellbeing (World Bank, 2004). Clarifying the implications of land-use decisions across the range of ecosystem services is fundamental to understanding the trade-offs inherent in land-use options. LUCI (the Land Utilization and Capability Indicator) is an emergent Geographic Information Systems (GIS) based framework developed to enable the mapping of several ecosystem services in a spatially explicit manner. This process enables a clearer understanding of the inter-dependencies between ecosystems and potential implications and trade-offs of management interventions across a range of services. There is however, limited understanding of the impact, utility and credibility of such tools for land-use decision-makers, or of how they perceive the information conveyed. This Thesis considered the impact that presenting information on land-use trade-offs through LUCI had on land-owners at the farm scale. This research supports previous findings that information alone does not drive behaviour (or decision-making) (Kollmuss, 2002, Fisk, 2011; Kennedy, 2010; Mackenzie-Mohr, 2000; Stern, 2000). Similarly, perceived credibility was not the main driver of decision-making nor is it necessarily rationally based. However without it, voluntary adoption of a new technology or tool is unlikely. Therefore, in seeking to diffuse tools, such as LUCI within a community, process design should take into account the social structures and the characteristics of targeted individuals within that community. The influence of temporal and context specific factors on decision-making provides both barriers and opportunities for technology diffusion. The research findings propose that when integrating new tools and technologies within communities, consideration is given to using a suite of tools, mechanisms and theories in concert such as Community-Based Social Marketing (Mackenzie-Mohr, 2011) and Diffusion Theory (Rogers, 2003) to facilitate improved diffusion and uptake by communities.