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Special Issue "System Dynamics Simulation of Environmental and Resource Sustainability"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2011)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Richard G. Dudley

21 Etna Lane, Etna, New York 13062, USA
E-Mail
Interests: system dynamics modeling; fishery management; small scale fisheries; natural resources management; international development; conservation
Guest Editor
Dr. Allyson Beall King

School of the Environment, Washington State University, PO Box 642812, Pullman, WA 99164-2812, USA
E-Mail
Phone: 509-335-4037
Interests: system dynamics; participatory environmental modeling; environmental modeling; interdisciplinary modeling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability is a complex subject -- an idea meaning many things to many people. Discussion of specific suggestions, plans, or actions which might lead to sustainable outcomes can become bogged down when details of these are viewed by different stakeholders with differing opinions. If such discussions can be carried out within a clear, agreed upon, framework, then the ability to reach reasonable consensus can be enhanced. Of the tools available to build that framework, system dynamics modeling stands out. It is well established, is based on a solid mathematical footing, is flexible, and has well developed protocols for model building, verification, and analysis. In particular, system dynamics modeling is an ideal tool for examining complex systems characterized by feedbacks and delayed effects, characteristics that underlie so many sustainably issues.

System dynamics modeling was first used to address sustainability in the Limits to Growth models of the early 1970s. Since then system dynamics modeling has become more sophisticated and easier to use. Over the same period sustainability has become an influential paradigm for examining possible future scenarios. As a consequence this special issue is dedicated to highlighting works which examine sustainability through the lens of system dynamics.

Dr. Allyson Beall
Dr. Richard G. Dudley
Guest Editors

Keywords

  • simulating sustainability
  • simulation
  • environmental modeling
  • system dynamics
  • system dynamics modeling
  • natural resource simulation

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle The Dynamics of Brownfield Redevelopment
Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 914-936; doi:10.3390/su3060914
Received: 11 February 2011 / Revised: 17 June 2011 / Accepted: 20 June 2011 / Published: 23 June 2011
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (712 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Negligence of former industrial sites (“brownfields”) has adversely impacted urban landscapes throughout the industrialized world. Brownfield redevelopment has recently emerged as a sustainable land use strategy and impetus for urban revitalization. This study presents a system dynamics model of the redevelopment process that
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Negligence of former industrial sites (“brownfields”) has adversely impacted urban landscapes throughout the industrialized world. Brownfield redevelopment has recently emerged as a sustainable land use strategy and impetus for urban revitalization. This study presents a system dynamics model of the redevelopment process that illustrates how delays compound before realizing financial benefits from investment in these core urban areas. We construct a dynamic hypothesis, in which brownfield redevelopment activities are dependent upon funding and in turn bolster tax base through job creation. Drawing on previous studies, barriers to brownfield redevelopment are explored, including fear of liability, regulatory concerns, and uncertain cleanup standards and funding mechanisms. We model a case study of redevelopment in the State of Michigan (USA), which is informed by data from the Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and U.S. Conference of Mayors brownfield surveys. Stock-flow structures represent phases of redevelopment, with diverted streams for sites in which no contamination was found (false alarms) and those with excess contamination level. The model is used to examine the point at which cumulative tax revenues from redeveloped areas exceed cumulative expenditures on brownfield redevelopment under different levels of funding availability. Full article
Open AccessArticle Sustainable Water Resource Management and Participatory System Dynamics. Case Study: Developing the Palouse Basin Participatory Model
Sustainability 2011, 3(5), 720-742; doi:10.3390/su3050720
Received: 1 March 2011 / Accepted: 15 April 2011 / Published: 27 April 2011
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (432 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The complexity of explaining highly scientific information and juggling a plethora of social values is leading agencies and communities such as those in the Palouse Basin to explore the use of participatory modeling processes using system dynamics. Participatory system dynamics as a methodology
[...] Read more.
The complexity of explaining highly scientific information and juggling a plethora of social values is leading agencies and communities such as those in the Palouse Basin to explore the use of participatory modeling processes using system dynamics. Participatory system dynamics as a methodology creates a transparent nexus of science, policy options, social concerns and local knowledge that enhances discussion of issues surrounding the use of natural resources. The process of developing a systems model uses the tenets of scientific theory, hypothesis testing and clear statements of assumptions. A unique aspect of the Palouse basin project is the use of system dynamics to describe ground water dynamics in a sole source confined aquifer system. There are, as of yet, no standards for analyzing participatory modeling projects, therefore, we use case study analysis to describe the process, insights and qualitative measurements of success. Full article
Open AccessArticle System Dynamics Modeling of Individual Transferable Quota Fisheries and Suggestions for Rebuilding Stocks
Sustainability 2011, 3(1), 184-215; doi:10.3390/su3010184
Received: 9 December 2010 / Accepted: 7 January 2011 / Published: 12 January 2011
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (328 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Correction | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This paper develops a system dynamics model of Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) systems in order to differentiate ITQ from total allowable catch (TAC) effects and to identify areas where policy changes and management improvement may be most effective. ITQ systems provide incentives for
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This paper develops a system dynamics model of Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) systems in order to differentiate ITQ from total allowable catch (TAC) effects and to identify areas where policy changes and management improvement may be most effective. ITQ systems provide incentives for long-term stewardship but when fisheries are managed “at the edge,” the incentives are inadequate for stock rebuilding. The free-market design of ITQ systems means that fishermen may be in conflict with the long-run, public sustainability goals of fishery management. An adaptive control scheme with a contingent public/private transfer payment is proposed to improve long-term results for both the local community and the general public. Full article
Open AccessArticle T21-Ohio, a System Dynamics Approach to Policy Assessment for Sustainable Development: A Waste to Profit Case Study
Sustainability 2010, 2(9), 2814-2832; doi:10.3390/su2092814
Received: 6 August 2010 / Revised: 28 August 2010 / Accepted: 29 August 2010 / Published: 6 September 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (168 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A new system dynamics tool, T21-Ohio, was developed to support integrated and comprehensive development planning at the state level. Based on the Threshold 21 (T21) framework, T21-Ohio provides insights into the potential impacts of energy and environmental policies across a wide range of
[...] Read more.
A new system dynamics tool, T21-Ohio, was developed to support integrated and comprehensive development planning at the state level. Based on the Threshold 21 (T21) framework, T21-Ohio provides insights into the potential impacts of energy and environmental policies across a wide range of sectors, and reveals how different strategies interact with one another to achieve planned goals and objectives. This paper shows how T21-Ohio was used to model the broader social, economic and environmental impacts of “waste to profit” activities in Ohio, such as recycling, electricity generation from waste, and bio-fuel production. Three alternative scenarios were simulated to evaluate the impacts of biomass co-firing, government stimulus for solid waste recycling, and by-product synergy activities. The results of the three scenario analyses indicate significant potential for economic development and creation of jobs while reducing emissions and waste. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Participatory System Dynamics Modeling for Sustainable Environmental Management: Observations from Four Cases
Sustainability 2010, 2(9), 2762-2784; doi:10.3390/su2092762
Received: 30 July 2010 / Revised: 19 August 2010 / Accepted: 20 August 2010 / Published: 2 September 2010
Cited by 21 | PDF Full-text (470 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainable environmental management requires a decision support approach that accounts for dynamic connections between social and ecological systems, integrates stakeholder deliberation with scientific analysis, incorporates diverse stakeholder knowledge, and fosters relationships among stakeholders that can accommodate changing information and changing social and environmental
[...] Read more.
Sustainable environmental management requires a decision support approach that accounts for dynamic connections between social and ecological systems, integrates stakeholder deliberation with scientific analysis, incorporates diverse stakeholder knowledge, and fosters relationships among stakeholders that can accommodate changing information and changing social and environmental conditions. Participatory system dynamics modeling provides such a framework. It supports stakeholder learning about the system and the perspectives of other stakeholders, and can help build social capital among stakeholders. Four cases of participatory system dynamics modeling, which range from no to full participant involvement in model development, support the idea that greater social capital development results from greater participation in model development, but also suggest that even the simplest use of simulation models in a group fosters stakeholder learning about the system through surprise and discovery. To maximize the learning value of simulation models, it is important to allow enough time for debriefing the “aha!” moments that lead to curiosity about system behavior. To maximize social capital development, it is important to build enough time into the problem structuring and model conceptualization phases for stakeholders to articulate their mental models and examine those of other participants. Full article
Open AccessArticle System Dynamics Modeling of the Massachusetts SREC Market
Sustainability 2010, 2(9), 2746-2761; doi:10.3390/su2092746
Received: 4 August 2010 / Revised: 19 August 2010 / Accepted: 20 August 2010 / Published: 31 August 2010
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (264 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As states across the country struggle to increase local development of renewable energy, policymakers are turning to innovative program designs to meet their renewable electricity targets. Massachusetts recently adopted a unique, auction-based price support mechanism for the solar portion of its renewable portfolio
[...] Read more.
As states across the country struggle to increase local development of renewable energy, policymakers are turning to innovative program designs to meet their renewable electricity targets. Massachusetts recently adopted a unique, auction-based price support mechanism for the solar portion of its renewable portfolio standard. During the program development process, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) used system dynamics to simulate potential solar renewable energy certificate market conditions under the proposed regulations. The modeling exercise resulted in several program design changes that will lead to a more stable certificate market. System dynamics can be a useful tool for developing and improving sustainability programs. Full article
Open AccessArticle Learning from the Neighbors: Economic and Environmental Impacts from Intensive Shrimp Farming in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 2144-2162; doi:10.3390/su2072144
Received: 28 May 2010 / Revised: 2 July 2010 / Accepted: 6 July 2010 / Published: 14 July 2010
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (765 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Intensive shrimp farming is a lucrative and highly risky business. Before entering this industry, most farmers spend time observing the operation of pilot farms. This stage is important to master essential techniques and judge the profitability and risk associated with shrimp farming. Learning
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Intensive shrimp farming is a lucrative and highly risky business. Before entering this industry, most farmers spend time observing the operation of pilot farms. This stage is important to master essential techniques and judge the profitability and risk associated with shrimp farming. Learning is a complex process that leads to misconceptions about the nature of short-term and long-term risks. This paper uses computer simulation to illuminate the dynamic nature of the learning processes, land conversion, shrimp production and environmental contamination. The model is based on conditions of the Dai Hoa Loc Commune in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Initial simulations match statistical data by revealing the high risk: high initial profits from the pilot farms followed by conversion from rice land to shrimp farms. When rapid conversion occurs, the region is vulnerable to excessive accumulation of nutrients, a decline in shrimp yields and financial failure. In contrast, low stock densities deliver a lower profit which is insufficient to stimulate mass land conversion. The paper concludes with testing recovery strategies for farmers who have suffered the longer term impacts of high stocking density. Results show that yield recovery is possible by improving the channel and imposing regulatory control over stocking density. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The System Dynamics of Forest Cover in the Developing World: Researcher Versus Community Perspectives
Sustainability 2010, 2(6), 1523-1535; doi:10.3390/su2061523
Received: 22 April 2010 / Revised: 7 May 2010 / Accepted: 26 May 2010 / Published: 1 June 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (483 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Efforts to increase forest cover in the developing world will only succeed if the root causes of deforestation are addressed. Researchers designing reforestation initiatives tend to emphasize macro-level drivers of deforestation, about which they have extensive data and knowledge. On the other hand,
[...] Read more.
Efforts to increase forest cover in the developing world will only succeed if the root causes of deforestation are addressed. Researchers designing reforestation initiatives tend to emphasize macro-level drivers of deforestation, about which they have extensive data and knowledge. On the other hand, local people have contextually based knowledge of forest cover dynamics in their region—about which external researchers may be largely ignorant. This type of perception gap between researchers and community members has led to many failed or insufficiently implemented projects. An emerging tool—group model-building with system dynamics—shows promise in its ability to integrate different perspectives on a complex problem such as forest cover loss. In this study, I use system dynamics modeling methodology to compare causal loop diagrams of forest cover dynamics on Negros Island, Philippines generated by researchers working for the World Wildlife Fund with causal loop diagrams generated by community members in upland Negros. The diagrams were significantly different, with very few variables in common, but both illuminate critical aspects of the deforestation problem on the island. I conclude that reforestation initiatives in the Philippines would benefit from incorporating all relevant information into a single, coherent model. Full article
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