Integrated Dynamic Environmental Assessment System (IDEAS)


IDEAS is a set of linked models for assisting stakeholders in planning catchment futures. From a future vision of the catchment, which may be articulated in a variety of ways, IDEAS may be used to assess the environmental and socio-­economic impacts of the vision. Integration of environmental and socio­economic factors facilitates learning by stakeholders of the impact of their personal visions on other stakeholders.


The purpose of IDEAS is to provide an Integrated Dynamic Environmental Assessment System within which modelling tools provide answers to real catchment questions about cumulative causes and effects of a mosaic of catchment developments. IDEAS is a scenario modelling tool designed to facilitate collaborative learning for catchment stakeholders. This is achieved by "a loose coupling of biophysical, economic and agent-based models".

IDEAS runs multiple biophysical models simultaneously and summarises outputs as a mean value of "environmental intensity' for each land use. IDEAS may be applied at a range of scales, from local through to regional.

It has particular strength at the catchment scale where bio­physical processes have strong spatial interactions. IDEAS feeds information into the dialogue between stakeholders so that a shared vision of a catchment can be generated. It helps stakeholders understand the present status of the catchment, in terms of environmental, economic, and social performance, and how this can change with various catchment management scenarios.

In technical stream of work the biophysical models predict the flow of water, and associated sediment, carbon, nutrients, and pollutants, through the catchment and into the marine environment. Inputs to the models is spatial data (land use is time dependent). Outputs from the models are time-dependent digital maps of mass flows (water, carbon, nutrients, and pollutants). No one model is able to handle all of the processes of interest in the catchment, so several models are used  for what are judged to be the important processes and these are then linked.

Latest Version 23
State of Development Closed Beta
Current Development Activity No

Development Contact

John Dymond
+64 6 353 4800
Landcare Research
Private Bag 11052
Manawatu Mail Centre
Palmerston North 4442,
New Zealand

Main Developers

  • Landcare Research


Outcome Areas Economic, Environmental, Social
Management Domains Land, Community
Subdomains Fishing & Aquaculture
Intended End Users
  • Researcher
  • Regional Council Scientist
  • Policy Analyst
  • Scientists, planners, policy makers
Spatial Resolutions 10-100m
Spatial Extents Local (i.e. Catchment or District)
Spatial Dimensions 1D, 2D
Temporal Resolutions Years
Temporal Extents Decades
Steady State or Dynamic Dynamic
Level of Integration Economic, Environmental, Social, Cultural

Input & Output Data

Key Input Data Macro-economic data, Land Use, Land Cover, Rainfall, Runoff, Drainage, Temperature, Potential Evaporation, Population cohorts, Migration, Fertility, Deprivation index, Cultural
Input Data Formats Any format one of the models support.
Key Output Data Macro-economic data Water quality & quantity indicators, Jobs, CHI
Output Data Formats not specified


Open/Closed Source Closed Source
Licence Type Not released to public.

User Information

Operating Systems MS Windows
Software Needed Excel
User Interface No user interface
Ease of Use Easy The coupling is easy to use.
Use in Policy Process Plan (Policy Formulation)


Support There is willingness of the developers to support users
Users Forum None

Technical Considerations

Programming Language A variety of languages as it is a loose coupling.
Methods included for calibration and validation All sorts of methods for the individual models. For example, NZEEM is validated using in-stream measurements.
Methods included for managing uncertainty The coupling does not consider uncertainty
Analytical Techniques use of environmental intensities
Model Structure

Loose coupling of a variety of models

Keywords policy development, catchment, model coupling, socio-economic
Linkages to other Models
  • New Zealand Empirical Erosion Model (NZeem®)
  • Linkages to other models is dependent on links to other models as it combines biophysical models (riverine water quantity, sediment, E. coli faecal bacteria, trout numbers, nitrogen transport, marine productivity), a socio-economic model (includes gross output, gross margin, job numbers), and an agent-based model.



Integrated catchment Management and IDEAS :

Presentation for ICM Motueka -

Key References

Dymond JR, Davie TJA, Fenemor AD, Ekanayake JC, Knight BR, Cole, AO, de Oca Munguia OM, Allen WJ, Young RG, Basher LR, Dresser M, and Batstone CJ 2010. Integrating environmental and socio-economic indicators of a linked catchment-coastal system using Variable Environmental Intensity. Environmental Management 46(3): 484-493 -

Dymond J, Davie T, Fenemor A, Cole A, Montes de Oca Manguia O, Knight B. and Batstone C. IDEAS: an Integrated Dynamic Environmental Assessment System Hydrological Society Conference, Rotorua, 2007. -

Associated Case Studies

IDEAS - ICM Motueka Catchment

ICM's aim was to integrate research and management to address multiple issues; there were 5 key themes and areas of research associated with the Motueka project.