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DPSIR-ESA Vulnerability Assessment (DEVA) Framework: Synthesis, Foundational Overview, and Expert Case Studies

Aavudai Anandhi, Kyle R. Douglas-Mankin, Puneet Srivastava, Robert M. Aiken, Gabriel Senay, L. Ruby Leung, Indrajeet Chaubey
Transactions of the ASABE v.63 no.3 pp. 741-752
agriculture, climate change, environmental assessment, environmental factors, environmental impact, forests, pastures, risk assessment, soil resources, sustainable land management, water resources, wildlife, Europe
Highlights A new DPSIR-ESA Vulnerability Assessment (DEVA) framework for land-resource assessment is presented. We broadly define a land-resource target system to include ecological resources and socioeconomic systems. DEVA operationalizes the process of assessing the vulnerability of a target system to external stressors. Six case studies provide examples of the key DEVA concepts and the seven DEVA steps. Abstract. Land resources are central to understanding the relationship between humans and their environment. We broadly define land resources to include all the ecological resources of climate, water, soil, landforms, flora, and fauna and all the socioeconomic systems that interact with agriculture, forestry, and other land uses within some system boundary. Understanding the vulnerability of land resources to changes in land management or climate forcing is critical to developing sustainable land management strategies. Vulnerability assessments are complex, given the multiple uses of the assessments, the multi-disciplinary nature of the problem, limited understanding, the dynamic structure of vulnerability, scale issues, and problems with identifying effective vulnerability indicators. Here, we propose a novel conceptual framework for vulnerability assessments of land resources that combines the driver-pressure-state-impact-response (DPSIR) framework adopted by the European Environment Agency to describe interactions between society and the environment, and the exposure-sensitivity-adaptive capacity (ESA) framework used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to assess impacts of climate change. The DPSIR-ESA Vulnerability Assessment (DEVA) framework operationalizes the process of assessing the vulnerability of a target system to external stressors. The DEVA framework includes seven steps: (1) definition of the target system (land resource), (2) description of internal characteristics of the target system (state), (3) description of target system vulnerability indicators (adaptive capacity, sensitivity), (4) description of stressor characteristics (drivers, pressures), (5) description of stressor vulnerability indicators (exposure), (6) description of target system response to stressors (impacts), and (7) description of modifications to target system or stressors (responses). In stating that they have applied the DEVA framework, analysts acknowledge that they (1) have considered the full breadth of each DEVA element, (2) have made conscious decisions to limit the scope and complexity of certain elements, and (3) can communicate both the rationale for these decisions and the impact of these decisions on the vulnerability assessment results and recommendations. The DEVA framework was refined during invited presentations and follow-up discussions at a series of special sessions with leading experts at two successive ASABE Annual International Meetings. Six case studies drawn from the sessions elaborate on the DEVA framework and provide examples of the key concepts. The DEVA framework gives engineers, planners, and analysts a flexible new approach to apply a broad array of useful tools for vulnerability assessment of land resource systems. Keywords: Driver-pressure-state-impact-response (DPSIR) framework, Exposure-sensitivity-adaptive capacity (ESA) framework, DPSIR-ESA Vulnerability Assessment (DEVA) framework, Land resource, Systems thinking.