Towards Data-Driven Environmental Policy Design

The Western Australian State Government Drummond_30_June_05_031_K_Wallace
Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) is managing the allocation of environmental conservation resources and funds within priority areas of high conservation significance. A particular challenge in this process, exacerbated by limited resources, is the actual identification of priority biological assets within these conservation areas. In many situations, assets will need to be prioritised by taking into account the generally large number of relevant parameters which include quantitative estimates such as asset irreplaceability as well as stakeholder opinions on relevant values (recreational, aesthetical). These stakeholders include land owners, local residents and local government authorities.

DEC has developed a framework which requires the capture of human values and the quantification of their delivery by biological assets such as species of animals and biological communities. The values are used to rank biological assets as a crucial input to environmental policy, planning and management.

The aim of this project is to deliver a methodology to capture and aggregate multiple heterogeneous data sources and any associated uncertainty in a real world environmental conservation context in order to support data-driven environmental policy design. The project will entail a close collaboration between DEC and the UK Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute where the former contributes their significant expertise and real world involvement in environmental conservation and policy design, and the latter leverages their expertise in data aggregation in a Digital Economy (DE) context where large numbers and types of different information sources are pervasive. The project will focus on two main stages: first, eliciting information (and its uncertainty) about the human value derived by different biological assets; second, modelling the captured qualitative (stakeholder opinions) and existing quantitative (e.g. asset area) data and associated uncertainty.

In doing so, we will develop and evaluate data aggregation algorithms & tools based on Fuzzy Sets and Systems and/or Fuzzy Measures & Fuzzy Integrals. The real-world application of the developed framework by DEC in conservation areas in Western Australia will provide concrete support for environmental policy-making in those areas. The project will also provide unique insights into the capacity of both the developed framework and data-driven policy design in general and in the context of environmental protection in Australia and abroad. The knowledge gained will further inform the potential for data-driven policy design in the DE in other areas where large numbers of stakeholders and information sources are pervasive

Partner: Government of Western Australia

This is a project in partnership with the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW).

Contacts: Christian Wagner and Amir Pourabdollah (UK), Michael Smith (Australia)

Project website: (password protected)