An Integrated Management & Decision Support System for Arid Lands

Project Number: 
Project Duration: 
42 Months
May 1, 1996 to October 31, 1999
Institution of Principle Investigator while on this project: 
University of Illinois

Investigators (most current known information)

ssociate Professor, Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, W-503 Turn Hall, 1102 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana IL 61801
TEL: +1-217-333-2770, FAX: +1-217-244-3219, Email:
Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Industrial Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv 69978, ISRAEL
Professor, School of Renewable Natural Resources, The University of Arizona, 325 Biological Sciences East, Tucson AZ 85721
TEL: +1-520-621-1723, FAX: +1-520-621-8801, Email:

Proposal Abstract

The project was conceived with the following objective: To develop an integrated decision support system for strategic land use planning and tactical multi-resource management with special emphasis on arid lands. The primary expected contribution was the development of computer-based system for various applications in arid lands. Results obtained after implementing the study for about three and half years indicate that the objectives were achieved and the expected contributions were satisfied.

The project was carried out with two related studies as follows: Study 1: GIS-Based Multi-criteria Approaches to Land Use Suitability Assessment, and Study 2: RANGEMAP: A Geographic Information System Application for Sustainable Livestock Management.

Study 1: The first study dealt with land suitability assessment in a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment. In the study, land suitability particularly habitat suitability was formulated as a multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) problem. Different MCDM techniques were developed to combine different factors affecting land suitability. These MCDM approaches were used to develop a generic suitability model. The approaches include both qualitative and quantitative techniques. Results from the MCDM analysis were then linked to a GIS for more detailed spatial analysis. These models were applied to the assessment of wildlife suitability analysis, particularly the desert tortoise.

The models developed in this study were presented in two National Conferences. Manuscripts drawn from these presentations have also been published in the Conference Proceedings (Mendoza, 1996; Mendoza, 1987). In both publications and presentations, IALC were acknowledged. Detailed description of the models and the two papers above are also available on line:

Study 2: The second study dealt with the development of a GIS-based range management tool called RANGEMAP. RANGEMAP was developed as a tool for grazing allotment management decision-making that addresses both resource production and conservation. It was developed using the Environmental Systems Research Institute's ARCVIEW GIS 3.1, with Spatial Analyst. RANGEMAP can estimate forage production using range site guides or other inputs, utilization rates, stocking rates by pasture, and erosion and runoff potential.

Determining sustainable stock rates across a heterogeneous landscape can be difficult, if not impossible without the aid of computer-based tools such as RANGEMAP. The factors that control forage production and erosion, climate, topography, soil type and management practices can change dramatically over a landscape. To assess the optimum stocking rate across a large allotment would require analyzing and integrating vast quantities of information. The development of a geographic information system called RANGEMAP has greatly facilitated the analysis and integration of such information, both geographic and spatial. RANGEMAP allows resource managers to estimate optimum stocking rates under different management scenarios. It will also enable managers to modify current management systems based on the location of water sources, fence locations and grazing systems.



Mendoza, G. A. 2000. "Multicriteria approaches to land suitability assessment and allocation." In Proceedings of the seventh international symposium on systems analysis in forest resources, eds. J.M. Vasievich, J.S. Fried and L.A. Leefers. USDA Forest Service. General Technical Report. NC-205, 89-94, May. Traverse City MI.

Mendoza, G.A., R. Prabhu and H. Purnomo. 1999. "Combining multi-criteria decision making and geographic information system." In Proceedings. International conference on Data Management and Modeling Using Remote Sensing and GIS for Tropical Forest Land Inventory, 361-370, October. Jakarta, Indonesia.

Guertin, D.P. 1999. "RANGEMAP: Range allocation model." In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Multiple Objective Decision Support Systems: MODSS for Managing Watersheds and Natural Resources, August. Brisbane, Australia.

Guertin, D.P., J.D. Womack, R. MacArthur and G.B. Ruyle. 1999. "Geographic information system based tool for integrated allotment and watershed management." In Proceedings of American Water Resources Association Annual Conference.

Mendoza, G.A. 1997. "Introduction to analytic hierarchy process: theory and applications to natural resource management." In Proceedings of the joint annual meeting of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM); American Association for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), 130-139. Resources Technology Institute (RTI), April. Seattle WA.

Mendoza, G.A. 1997. "Multicriteria approaches to land suitability assessment and allocation." In Proceedings of the seventh international symposium on systems analysis in forest resources, May. Traverse City MI.


Support for this project came from the USDA Forest Service