Integration of Mathematical Modeling and Multicriteria Methods in Assessing Environmental Change in Developing Areas: A Case Study of a Coastal System
An integrated methodology, based on the combination of a marine water quality model and multicriteria analysis, is proposed as a new tool for addressing economic and environmental issues for coastal areas. The model consists of three interacting components (terrestrial, hydrodynamic and biological submodels), which are used to evaluate the likely environmental impact of various economic development scenarios. Multicriteria Analysis combines the model outputs with socioeconomic values for the coast and through assignment of different weights /priorities by the user provides a ranking system for these scenarios. The Gulf of Gera, Island of Lesvos, Greece, a semi-enclosed and shallow system surrounded by a cultivated and inhabited watershed, was used as a case study for this method. Four scenarios concerning the development of tourism, the construction of agricultural green houses, the cultivation of woody plant species and the development of animal husbandry were tested against the present condition of the watershed (which is primarily dominated by olive oil production). The trade-off between increase d profit s and environmental impacts for these development scenarios was illustrated using Cluster and Principal Component Analysis. The results of these analyses showed that tourism and animal husbandry balance profits and environmental degradation most effectively and represent the most favorable future development strategies for the study area. The present approach can be used as a supportive tool for policy-planners and decision-makers to quantify inter related socio-economic and environmental issues for the sustainable development of coastal areas.