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GIS-based planning support system for rural land-use allocation

Santé-Riveira, Inés, Crecente-Maseda, Rafael, Miranda-Barrós, David
Computers and electronics in agriculture 2008 v.63 no.2 pp. 257-273
geographic information systems, computer software, land use, land evaluation, case studies, simulation models, image analysis, rural planning, Spain
This article describes a planning support system for rural land-use allocation. The system is called RULES (RUral Land-use Exploration System) and is based on a geographic information system (GIS). Other software components have been incorporated into the GIS to link external analytical models to the system. These analytical techniques support three basic stages in a rural land-use planning model: land suitability evaluation, land-use area optimization, and spatial allocation of land uses. Land evaluation is carried out using multicriteria evaluation methods and the FAO framework. A multiobjective linear programming model has been designed for the optimization of land-use areas, where the objectives include economic, social, and environmental aspects. Suitability maps and land-use areas obtained in the two previous stages are used to design the final land-use map using three techniques: hierarchical optimization, ideal point analysis, and an algorithm based on simulated annealing. The system has been applied in Terra Chá (a region in NW Spain), thereby demonstrating its efficacy. The system enabled alternative land-use plans to be generated for this region according to different stakeholders' perspectives. This tool contributes to directing and supporting discussion throughout the planning process.