Current Abstracts


Scrooge or Santa? Or The Challenge of Scoping a Model of Livelihood Decision-Making at the Mafungautsi Forest Margins, Zimbabwe.
Mandy Haggith, Ravi Prabhu, Happyson Mudavanhu

This paper explores the challenge of scoping a system model. We describe three aspects of the scope of a model: boundary, granularity and conceptual scope. We reflect on these aspects through an example of a model of the land-use decisions made in villages which border on the Mafungautsi forest in Zimbabwe.

Boundary issues are about the outer limits of the model and in our case these include which villages are included, the spatial extent of the landscape represented and the range of social and political influences treated as endogenous to the model. Scoping also involves deciding on various issues of granularity, such as the smallest units of social structure (e.g. individual, household or community), the scale of the physical entities such as patches of land and the timestep and overall duration of the model.

In addition to boundary and granularity issues, the scoping challenge is also one of deciding on the conceptual or disciplinary scope of the model, in the sense of deciding what factors are going to be dynamic within the model (e.g. political factors such as power relations and regulations; social factors such as family structures, friendships, health and communication; psychological factors such as knowledge, opinions and uncertainty; economic factors such as wealth and prices; or biophysical factors such as weather, forest quality and insect populations, not to mention fire). Conceptual scoping is particularly difficult when working with a highly multi-disciplinary team all of whom have different interests in the contents of the model.

We describe the scoping decisions that we made in building the Mafungautsi model, in which we were liberal and sought to encompass the interests of all participants. These decisions now present us with a range of serious challenges: the difficulty of model callibration, the computational expense of running simulations, and the difficulty for new users to understand the model.
We conclude that facilitators of modelling teams need to consider whether they will be as generous as Santa Claus, by giving everyone what they want and including all participants' ideas in the model, or seem as mean as Scrooge by saying 'no' to many suggestions. In hindsight we think that Santa's approach is liable to result in an electronic Frankenstein, whereas Scrooge, though seeming miserly at first, might end up giving us an electronic train-set that actually works!

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Unlocking complexity : the importance of idealisation in simulation modelling
Mandy Haggith & Ravi Prabhu

This paper is about idealisation - the process of finding simple representations of the real world whilst conceptualising a model.

We reflect on the reasons for excessive complication in simulation models and propose some enhancements to standard modelling methodology which enable a more systematic approach to harnessing complexity.

There are three ways to limit complication in a model of a complex real world context: by focussing the scope of the modelling process onto a clearly defined issue; by idealisation of the elements of the real world during model conceptualisation; and by simplification of the implemented simulation program. Whilst all three of these methods are appropriate in some circumstances, we argue that careful idealisation has the most potential for increasing model tractability whilst also generating insights during the model design process.

In the FLORES (Forest Land Oriented Resource Envisioning System) project we have modelled social forest landscapes which are highly complex. We demonstrate the benefits of idealisation through six examples from this modelling work, covering a range of issues including land tenure, forest management activities, conversion of forest benefits into economic values, social diversity, communication, collaboration and learning. Each example illustrates a different method for achieving an idealisation which yields insights relevant for policy players.

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Infectious Ideas: Modelling the diffusion of ideas across social networks
Mandy Haggith, Ravi Prabhu, Carol Colfer, Bill Ritchie, Alan Thomson and Happyson Mudavanhu

Will the practice of collecting wild honey wearing no clothes become a widespread practice in Zimbabwe? Or will beekeeping take over as the main way that people acquire honey? This paper describes an exploratory modelling study investigating how social network patterns affect the way ideas spread around communities. We conclude that increasing the density of social networks increases the spread of successful ideas whilst speeding the loss of ideas with no competitive advantage. Some different kinds of competitive advantage are explored.

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A System Dynamic Model for Creating Scenarios of a more Sustainable Forest Management: An East Kalimantan Case Study
Herry Purnomo, Ravi Prabhu and Stepi Hakim

System dynamic is an effort to understand complexity of social and eco-systems of forest. Through this understanding, a conscious learning on interaction between people and forest will take place in order to manage forest in more sustainable and equitable manners. A system dynamic modeling was carried out in area surrounding Lumut Mountain Forest, District of Paser, East Kalimantan. In the area, where legally was allocated to a logging company, had lived local people who depended on forest and rattan. The policy makers were trying to improve the well-being of local people without scarifying the logging company. Aim of the study was to give policy options to policy makers and likely impacts of those options. The model used FLORES as a template model, and then adapted FLORES model to meet local condition. The built model comprises biophysical, social, policy and impact main components. The model showed the change of impact indicators, which are standing stock, community income, and concession revenue and government income, given any selected policy option.

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Christopher Legg

A FLORES-type model in the SIMILE modeling environment is currently being developed for three villages in the Humid Forest Benchmark area of southern Cameroon. The benchmark lies on the northern edge of the Congo Basin humid tropical forest and covers a gradient from abundant (although logged) forest and low population density to no remaining forest and relatively high population density. Farming systems range from traditional and extensive to more intensive monocultures. The modeling project is intended mainly to investigate the effects of introduction of new crop varieties and improved farming systems on the long-term maintenance of stable mosaics of forest and agriculture, within the context of the international Alternatives to Slash and Burn (ASB) programme.

Biophysical data on crops, natural vegetation and soils has been compiled from IITA and other sources. Socio-economic surveys at household and village level conducted by IITA have been linked to actual locations of villages and houses and supplemented by additional surveys. Boundaries of land-patches in the three villages have been mapped using GPS, and details of land use and ownership recorded. Maps of land-cover at village and benchmark scale are being prepared from detailed and semi-detailed satellite imagery, using a nested legend system that allows linking of maps at different scales. This data enables the initial construction and parameterisation of the model, and will permit the extrapolation of the results of modeling from the villages to the benchmark, and ultimately to the eco-zone, the Congo Basin humid forests.

The processes of collecting field data and building the model have provided new insights into agricultural practices in the study area, and into evolving land tenure systems. The prototype version of the model involves only ten households and about 500 land patches, and includes the three agricultural systems dominant in the southern more forested portion of the Benchmark (mixed food / fallow systems, forest melon fields, cocoa plantations) with no rental, sale or other transfer of land. Decision making at the household level is essentially deterministic, and labour productivity is constant between households. This model is almost complete, and once this model is adjusted and parameterised to run for long periods in an essentially steady state, then the model will be applied to real data from the three test villages. This will require the addition of new farming systems, the introduction of modes of permanent or temporary transfer of land, and modification of the decision model to render it more realistic.

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Development of Multi-stakeholder Scenarios of Forest Management: A Multiagent System Simulation Approach
Herry Purnomo, Hari Priyadi, Yurdi Yasmi, Linda Yuliani and Ravi Prabhu

International strategy of sustainable development urges forest management to be carried out in a multi-stakeholder environment. The importance of communities' participation in the forest management has become a common statement in Indonesia, and it has been written in the Indonesian Act 41 about Forestry (1999). However, how to implement this act in the area where already allocated to a concession holder is still unclear. The state owned company, PT. Inhutani II Sub Unit Malinau, has managed the lowland forest in Malinau District, East Kalimantan, Indonesia for over 10 years. They established permanent sample plots for measuring growth and yield. However, current regulations do not give the company a sufficient space to use PSP data for management, nor does it allow systematic involvement of local communities in forest management.

The aim of the research was to seek scenarios of sustainable secondary forest management, which address the above limitations. The scenarios were developed through simulation of social and biophysical components in the area using a multi-agent system (MAS) which is a branch of artificial intelligence. This paper presents the scenario development process and the resulting scenarios for collaborative forest management. The results reveal that MAS are a powerful simulation tool for development of scenarios for sustainable dipterocarp forest management). Sustainability was measured using indicators of forest cover and standing stock, communities incomes, company revenue and taxes paid to the local and central governments. It was also found that collaboration between PT Inhutani II and the communities appeared to be the most suitable alternative for sustainable forest management.

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Developing a Collaborative Model for the Management of the Areas Surrounding Lumut Mountain: A Qualitative Systems Analysis Approach
Herry Purnomo, Yurdi Yasmi, Ravi Prabhu and Stepi Hakim

Complexity of forest eco- and social systems in the areas surrounding Lumut Mountain, Pasir District, East Kalimantan made a single perception of it inadequate basis for good forest management. A common understanding on how to manage such complex areas was developed through a collaborative modeling process, in which all relevant stakeholders participated. The model was built through identifying of the important components of forest management, building a conceptual model using a causal loop diagram and defining the performance indicators. The model was then used for exploring qualitative future scenarios to improve well being of local stakeholders and forest quality. Finally, action roles of participants were defined to implement the chosen scenarios. We found that this qualitative modeling process conducted in Pasir was very effective in developing collective action.

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Social landscape and resources mapping
V.Robiglio, W. Mala, C.Diaw

Social landscape mapping seeks to build the community's spatial context through the integration of partecipatory SS methods with GIS techniques. In the village a geographically accurate basic map results from preliminary focus group discussions,GPS mapping and integration of the data into a GIS.

The main geographical features and the spatial references indicated by the group are represented. Further thematic maps concernig the use of resources and their social appropriation are produced during the following focus group discussions using transparent sheets and the basic map as a reference. Again the various informative layers are included in the GIS. The social landscape
map is used here as part of the spatially referenced information for modelling. The Land use mosaics built through Remote Sensing and GPS mapping for the modelling acquires its social reason.

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Mapping landscape systems at different scales

Landcover maps at scale 1:20000 are produced for the modelling villages. A Landcover map at a scale of 1:100.000 is implemented at the regional level. This type of data will be used for the constructon of the model and for its parametrization and validation. Working on land cover and land cover dynamics using data of different spatial and spectral character requires the implementation of a descriptive system able to guarantee the harmonization of the different levels. The correspondence of the polygons at the two levels of resolution used here, is maintained using a nested legend developed from the FAO Land Cover Classification System. The nested legend
is conceived to be applicable to all types of land cover maps that will be produced in the area covered by ASB project, in order to maintain the possibility of aggregating/incorporating and disaggregating/breaking out, classes according to the level of detail required and realistically
obtainable maintainig a certain internal consistence.

The land cover map at the village level is an important tool to complete the information abut the land cover and land use types not directly linked to the presently farmed land mapped for the modeling. The characterization of the village in terms of land cover types gives important insights into the availability and potential use of resources like timber, NTFP, wild meat and other forest products. It is easy to analyze the impacts of different uses and the pressure exerted on the forest resources in terms of agricultural land use at the single hamlet and village level but also of the forestry use in terms of selective logging and of the presence of infrastructures connected to the activity of timber extraction.

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The Simile visual modelling environment as a platform for FLORES
Robert I. Muetzelfeldt and Jasper Taylor

Simile is a visual modelling environment that has been used for most model development within the FLORES research programme. It has a number of features which make it uniquely placed to meet several key requirements for FLORES modelling. First, it enables models to be designed diagrammatically, using a visual notation that is closely related to standard flow and influence diagrams: this supports the involvement of all stakeholders in the modelling process. Second, it has the expressiveness needed to handle the original conception of a FLORES model: collections of households, making strategic and short-term decisions about multiple patches of land on a spatial basis, with complex social relationships such as tenure operating. Third, it can generate computationally-efficient model implementations (as C++ programs), allowing it to handle considerable model complexity. Fourth, the model input and display tolls can be readily customised to meet the needs of particular model users. Finally, it supports modular modelling, enabling models to be rapidly customised by swapping particular submodels.

In this paper, we discuss our experiences in using Simile for the development of FLORES models. We consider the interesting - and frequently ignored - interaction between the technology available for modelling and the design of the models made using this technology. We also consider the use of Simile for developing a range of models of human-forest interaction, at different levels of detail, and the thorny problem of scaling up from village to region.

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Beyond modeling: Using participatory modeling approaches as tools for group communication and social learning
Standa-Gunda W, Haggith M, Mutimukuru, T Nyirenda, and Prabhu R

The paper reviews the usefulness of models as tools for social learning through group participation in developing future scenarios. We assess the potential to use participatory modeling as a way for local people to explore the consequences of their actions and in the process review the benefits of innovative initiatives. By developing group-based scenarios that can be simulated in a model framework, the paper argues that this process can be used as a vital step towards increased community interaction, and social learning. We develop scenarios based on natural resource issues that the community would have thought pertinent to them. In this regard we foresee the scenario building process focusing on either poles, honey, land or broom grass. The strategies required to attain any given future scenario are then expressed as casual loop diagrams. These diagrams are meant to reflect the opportunities and constraints that the group expects to encounter in attaining the future scenario.

In this paper we give focus to the process of developing the model rather than the model itself. It is the intension of the model development process to create new awareness amongst the facilitating team and local participants. Hence, we recognize the strong linkages between the model development process and the on going participatory action research as components of the reflection loop. Below is the schema of the framework that we will use in relating some of the core issues bridging participatory modeling and social learning.

Developing linkages between urban fuelwood demand and the environment: A bioeconomic systems model
Muyeye Chambwera

Wood fuel consumption in the urban areas of most developing countries contribute to the depletion of woodlands in and around urban centres. Fuel wood is an alternative source of energy for most urban dwellers. It is used in combination with or in the absence of other sources of energy such as kerosene and electricity. In most urban areas, a market for fuelwood has emerged over time, with the commodity being traded on an almost competitive basis. The market is the linkage between consumers and the sources of fuelwood. Understanding the linkages between household economic activities on one hand, and the supply of fuelwood on the other, facilitates the development of policies and strategies aimed at minimising impacts of energy consumption on the environment on one hand, and enabling consumers to improve their welfare on the other. Such a win-win situation can be achieved by considering and simulating the motivations of all agents involved, and understanding how these are transformed into physical entities like fuelwood demand. This paper develops a systems model incorporating household socio-economics, market economics and the response of natural woodlands to demands made on them by harvesting for energy provision in urban areas. Harare is used as a case study. This paper focuses on the development of a systems model using simile, representing the key variables of the urban-fuelwood-environment system, and testing the effects of changing states and trends of different variables on the state of natural woodlands.

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A Multi-Objective Analysis of Catchment Management Options in Chivi District, Southern Zimbabwe
Peter G.H. Frost, Witness Kozanayi and Osman Mubachi

Modelling the interactions between people and natural resources requires us to understand what motivates people, what criteria they use to evaluate possible courses of action, the rules governing decision-making, and how all these vary with site, time and circumstance. This paper explores this theme in the context of a study aimed at identifying the most likely viable options available to communal-area farmers in semi-arid Zimbabwe to manage their soil, water, crop and vegetation resources within small catchments. An ancillary problem was to understand what might be the relative costs and benefits to farmers of managing their private lands in contrast to taking part in managing common-pool resources. The management options were evaluated using multi-criteria analysis (MCA) packaged in the multi-objective decision-support system 'Facilitator' . The study was carried out in the Romwe and Mutangi communities in Chivi District, Zimbabwe, in March 2001.

An array of options were evaluated, covering possible courses of action or alternatives for managing ecological processes affecting agricultural production. They included constructing contour ridges, dead-level contours, fanya juu furrows, or infiltration pits; tillage practices such as mulch ripping and tied ridging; planting vertiver grass strips to control run-off and erosion; gully reclamation; controlled grazing; live fencing; agroforestry; using inorganic fertilisers; and applying organic soil amendments to arable lands. These options are carried out on different parts of the agricultural landscapes of the region, and involve activities at a range of scales. They require different levels of community organisation to implement. Most of them require substantial time, labour, equipment and other inputs, as well as sometimes skills and advice. Although they are not wholly mutually exclusive, they all potentially compete for people's time, labour and resources, so that those devoted to one option cannot simultaneously be available for others. Moreover, the benefit streams differ, with some benefits being localised, delayed or hard to discern, while others are more widespread, immediate and apparent.

The decision criteria were identified and evaluated in conjunction with the local people and were as follows: construction labour; financial cost of construction; loss of arable land; need for skills; need for extension advice; need for plant material; maintenance frequency; maintenance labour; need for tools, traction power, and transport; reduced soil erosion; improved yields; improved soil moisture and soil fertility; improved grazing; increase of wood and NTFPs; increased cropland area; immediacy of benefits; scale of impact; promotion of pests and disease; transaction cost; and spiritual benefits. The criteria selected were presumed to cover the range of factors likely to affect the decision as to the preferred option. The relative scores for the criteria for each option were established through key informants interviews with 48 local farmers (35 in Mutangi - 25 men, 10 women; 13 in Romwe - 10 men and 3 women). The criteria are not necessarily equally important, but the scores were not weighted. 'Weighting' was achieved instead by adjusting the order of entry in the analysis (i.e. through ranking). Related criteria were nested within 'composite criteria' before analysis.

In the analysis of possible physical options for managing the catchments, the preferred options all related to the management of privately-managed dryland fields. The top three options were increased use of inorganic fertilisers, the addition of organic matter to the soil, and either tied ridging (Mutangi) or mulch ripping (Romwe). In general, perceptions were broadly similar at Romwe and Mutangi, though there were some minor differences between men and women. The criteria that people considered most important were those relating to improvements in soil quality. Major constraints appear to be the lack of plant material (for agroforestry, live fencing and planting vertiver grass as an erosion control measure), the need for extension advice, tools, knowledge and skills, and the labour, monetary and transaction costs associated with public works. The immediacy of benefits seems important; outlays need to be recouped sooner rather than later, especially in constrained situations.

Multi-criteria decisions support tools seem useful in helping identify and provide insight into some of the constraints and opportunities perceived by farmers. Prospective decisions can be assessed relatively objectively, with the outputs providing a basis for further discussion and deliberation. The understanding developed during this process could enhance the development of more complex models of people-resource interactions. Since the outputs of the MCA are sensitive to the order in which the criteria are entered into the analysis, Facilitator could perhaps be used in a hindcasting mode, in which the order of entry of the criteria is manipulated to reproduce a known preference, determined by some other means, thereby establishing what might be the key criteria underlying the choice. Aggregating the criteria into broader composites tends to diminish the differences among the options, suggesting that clear-cut choices may be based on one or a few over-riding criteria, rather than on some complex mix.

This research was funded partly by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (Project LWR2/96/163 "Enhanced Resource-Use Planning in Tropical Woodland Agroecosystems") and the UK Department for International Development (DFID Project No. R7304 - Zimbabwe: Micro-Catchment Management and Common Property Resources). This acknowledgement does not imply the endorsement of either agency for any of the views expressed.

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Application of new tools: Exploring the synergies between simulation models and participatory research in smallholder farming systems?
John Dimes and Steve Twomlow

This paper reviews the experiences of ICRISAT and NARS partners in exploring the synergies between systems simulation models and farmer participatory research in smallholder farming systems in southern and Eastern Africa. The research focus is improved soil fertility management at the farm household level, under circumstances of resource constraints and climatic risk. It describes the attributes of a simulation tool for application in the smallholder farming systems and the role that this tool has played in enhancing the soil fertility research agenda and the on-farm participatory research process. Applications in smallholder farming systems to date include analysis of trade-offs for alternative resource allocation, prioritizing research agendas by identifying 'Best-Bet' options and contributing to learning about farm management practices via computer aided discussions with farmers. Within the latter, important synergies emerge: farmer input helps to guide the simulation analysis around current and changed practice (that is feasible), while simulation outputs provides estimates of the range of responses possible for a given technology and ultimately the risk associated with variable climate and management conditions.

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