Keywords: environmental assessment, hierarchy theory, natural heritage, river basin, water resources
The contribution of hierarchy theory to environmental assessment: application to water resource management
Environmental assessment methods are generally based on mono-disciplinary approaches drawn from biophysical or social sciences. This paper discusses the use of hierarchy theory to represent ecological systems when building a cross-disciplinary environmental assessment methodology in which a variety of legitimate views are formally taken into account. A hierarchical approach is applied to the study of an environmental problem arising from conflicting water resource allocation requirements among different activities competing for this resource in an eastern Sicilian river basin (Italy). A second case study suggests the usefulness of hierarchy theory in analysing how a community perceives a natural resource and how the concept of natural heritage changes over time.