SENSOR - Analytical framework for ex ante impact assessment of policies affecting land use

The analytical framework for ex ante impact assessment of policies affecting land use provides a chain of analysis that departs from a predominantly economic setting, i. e. drivers, which is translated into a geophysical setting, i.e. land use pressures, and further into an integrated system of the social, economic, and environmental settings, i.e. sustainability impacts. Processed information was used to feed discussions within the project, with regard to impact assessment processes through multiple scenario comparison.

The adaptation of the DPSIR (Driving forces Pressures States Impacts Responses) concept is a technocratic approach to impact assessment that was chosen for various reasons: clarity, reproducibility, and high potential for integrating the three dimensions of sustainability. However, the framework does not cover the dialogue sufficiently at the science-policy interface in order to carry out an effectual political process of impact assessment. Still, it is found that the analytical framework is an adequate basis for integrating data towards decision making purposes. Applied together with communication tools, the framework can very well be employed for improving the dialogue at the science-policy interface.

The method aimed at integrating top-down data and indicator-based model with bottom-up, value driven participatory approaches. The translation of the analytical architecture for decision support will help policy makers to comprehend the possible impacts of various scenario-based choice options.

The major difference from other approaches lies in the handling of modelling and indicator results. In this framework, model and indicator results are aggregated to Land Use Functions, which are the quantitative input into the qualitative valuation process that is furthered by a discursive dialogue with stakeholders. It is interesting to see how both approaches might be combined, with the model being used as an initial “quick-scan” tool. Thus, the model can highlight particular problem areas that warrant further and more detailed analyses of impacts, thereby triggering the application of stakeholder inclusive research to carry out an assessment at case study level.


Helming, K., K. Diehl, H. Bach, O. Dilly, B. König, T. Kuhlman, M. Perez-Soba, S. Sieber, P. Tabbush, K. Tscherning, D. Wascher, and H. Wiggering. 2011. Ex ante impact assessment of policies affecting land use, Part A: analytical framework. Ecology and Society 16(1): 27.