Ecosystem Management Decision Support

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The Ecosystem Management Decision Support (EMDS) system is an application framework for knowledge-based decision support of ecological analysis and planning at any geographic scale.

EMDS integrates state-of-the-art geographic information system (GIS) as well as logic programming and decision modeling technologies in the Microsoft Windows environment to provide decision support for a substantial portion of the adaptive management process of ecosystem management.

EMDS uses Criterium DecisionPlus from InfoHarvest, Inc. and NetWeaver from Rules of Thumb, Inc. as core components. The NetWeaver component performs logic-based evaluation of environmental data, and logically synthesizes evaluations to infer the state of landscape features such as watersheds (e.g., watershed condition). The DecisionPlus component prioritizes landscape features with respect to user-defined management objectives (e.g., watershed restoration), using summarized outputs from NetWeaver as well as additional logistical information considered important to the decision maker(s). See the #Applications section below for a current list of published papers by application area.

EMDS was originally developed by the United States Forest Service, but is currently being maintained by the Redlands Institute of the University of Redlands.

Several citations provide extensive background on the EMDS system and its potential applications. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]


  1. Watershed analysis[8][9][10][11][12][13]
  2. Wetlands management[14]
  3. Design and siting of ecological reserves[15][16]
  4. Conservation[17][18][19]
  5. Land classification[20][21]
  6. Landscape restoration[22][23][24]
  7. Wildlife habitat management[25][26][27][28][29]
  8. Urban growth and development[30][31]
  9. Evaluation of wildland fire danger[32]
  10. Ecosystem sustainability[33][34][35]


  1. Reynolds, 2001a
  2. Reynolds, 2001b
  3. Reynolds, 2002a
  4. Reynolds, 2002b
  5. Reynolds, 2003
  6. Reynolds, 2005b
  7. Reynolds, 2005c
  8. Bleier et al., 2003
  9. Dai et al., 2004
  10. Gallo et al., 2005
  11. Reeves et al., 2003
  12. Reynolds and Peets, 2001
  13. Reynolds et al., 2000
  14. Janssen et al., 2005
  15. Bourgeron et al., 2003
  16. Stoms et al., 2002
  17. Manzuli, 2005
  18. White et al., 2005
  19. Humphries et al., 2008
  20. Cheng, 2004
  21. Wang et al., 2004a
  22. Hessburg et al., 2004
  23. Reynolds and Hessburg, 2005
  24. Stolle et al., 2007
  25. Girvetz and Shilling, 2003
  26. Heaton et al., 2008
  27. Leuteritz, 2006
  28. Redlands Institute, 2004
  29. Wang et al., 2004b
  30. Johnston et al., 2002
  31. Puente et al., 2007
  32. Hessburg et al., 2007
  33. Reynolds et al., 2003
  34. Reynolds, 2005a
  35. Reynolds et al., 2008


  • Bleier, C., Downie, S., Cannata, S., Henly, R., Walker, R., Keithley, C., Scruggs, M.; Custis, K., Clements, J. and R. Klamt. 2003. North Coast Watershed Assessment Program Methods Manual. California Resources Agency and California Environmental Protection Agency, Sacramento, California. 191 pages. PDF
  • Bourgeron, P.S., H.C. Humphries, and K.M. Reynolds. 2003. Conducting large-scale conservation evaluation and conservation area selection using a knowledge-based system and GIS framework. In: Parks, BO, Clarke KM, Crane MP, editors. 2003. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Integrating Geographic Information Systems and Environmental Modeling: Problems, Prospectus, and Needs for Research. [CD-ROM, ISBN 0-9743307-0-1]. GIS/EM4 Conference; 2000 Sep 2-8; The Banff Centre, Banff, (AB) Canada. [Jointly published] Boulder: University of Colorado - Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Denver: US Geologic Survey - Center for Biological Informatics, and Boulder: NOAA National Geophysical Data Center - Ecosystem Informatics. Internet
  • Cheng, C.-C. 2004. Chapter 2. Pages 94–104 in T. Partap, ed. Evolving sustainable production systems in sloping upland areas: land classification issues and options. Tokyo: Asian Productivity. internet
  • Dai, J.J., S. Lorenzato, and D.M. Rocke 2004. A knowledge-based model of watershed assessment for sediment. Environmental Modelling & Software 19: 423–433. PDF
  • Gallo, Kirsten; Lanigan, Steven H.; Eldred, Peter; Gordon, Sean N.; Moyer, Chris. 2005. Northwest Forest Plan—the first 10 years (1994–2003): preliminary assessment of the condition of watersheds. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-647. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 133 p. Download page for PDF - in five parts
  • Girvetz, E., and Shilling, F. 2003. Decision Support for Road System Analysis and Modification on the Tahoe National Forest. Environmental Management 32:218-233. PDF
  • Heaton, J.S., K.E. Nussear, T.C. Esque, R.D. Inman, F.M. Davenport, T.E. Leuteritz, P.A. Medica, N.W. Strout, P.A. Burgess, and L. Benvenuti. 2008. Spatially explicit decision support for selecting translocation areas for Mojave desert tortoises. Biodiversity Conservation 17:575–590. PDF
  • Hessburg, P. F. Reynolds, K. M., Salter, R. B., and Richmond, M. B. 2004. Using a decision support system to estimate departures of present forest landscape patterns from historical conditions: An example from the Inland Northwest Region of the United States. Chapter 12, In: Perera, A.H., L.J. Buse, and M.G. Weber, eds. Emulating Natural Forest Landscape Disturbances: Concepts and Applications. Columbia University Press, New York, NY. PDF
  • Hessburg, P., Reynolds, K., Keane, R., James, K., Salter, R. 2007. Evaluating wildland fire danger and prioritizing vegetation and fuels treatments. Forest Ecology and Management 247:1-17. PDF
  • Humphries, H.C., P.S. Bourgeron, and K.M. Reynolds. 2008. Suitability for conservation as a criterion in regional conservation network selection. Biodiversity and Conservation 17:
  • Janssen, R., H. Goosena, M.L. Verhoevenb, J.T.A. Verhoevenb, A.Q.A. Omtzigta and E. Maltby. 2005. Decision support for integrated wetland management. Environmental Modelling and Software 30: 215-229. PDF
  • Johnston, R.A., D.R. Shabazian, and S. Gao. 2002. UPlan, a versatile urban growth model for transportation planning. Transportation Research Record 1831: 202-209. PDF
  • Leuteritz, Thomas E.J. 2006. Tortoises on the march: modeling and GIS help relocate a threatened species. GeoWorld, May 2006. online
  • Manzuli, A.G. 2005. Knowledge-based monitoring and evaluation system of land Use: assessing the ecosystem conservation status in the influence area of a gas pipeline in Bolivia. Doctoral dissertation. Göttingen: Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftlichen Fakultäten der Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. PDF
  • Puente, C.R., I.F. Diego, J.J. Ortiz Santa María. A.P. Hernando, and P.z de Arróyabe Hernáez. 2007. The development of a new methodology based on GIS and fuzzy logic to locate sustainable industrial areas. 10th AGILE International Conference on Geographic Information Science, Aalborg University, Denmark. PDF
  • Redlands Institute Decision Support Team. 2004. Desert Tortoise habitat potential knowledge base. Redlands Institute, Redlands, CA. 120 pp. PDF
  • Reeves, Gordon, H.; Hohler, David B.; Larsen, David P.; Busch, David E.; Kratz, Kim; Reynolds, Keith; Stein, Karl F.; Atzet, Thomas; Hays, Polly; Tehan, Michael. 2003. Aquatic and riparian effectiveness monitoring program for the Northwest Forest Plan. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-577. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 80 p. PDF
  • Reynolds, K.M., Jensen, M., Andreasen, J., and Goodman, I. 2000. Knowledge-based assessment of watershed condition. Comput Electron Agr 27:315–334. online
  • Reynolds, K.M. 2001a. Using a logic framework to assess forest ecosystem sustainability. Journal of Forestry 99:26-30.
  • Reynolds, K.M. 2001b. Fuzzy logic knowledge bases in integrated landscape assessment: examples and possibilities. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-521. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 24 p. PDF
  • Reynolds, K.M.; Peets, S. 2001. Integrated assessment and priorities for protection and restoration of watersheds. Proceedings of the IUFRO 4.11 conference on forest biometry, modeling and information science. 26-29 June 2001, Greenwich, UK. PDF
  • Reynolds, K.M. 2002a. Landscape evaluation and planning with EMDS 3.0. 2002 ESRI User Conference. San Diego, CA. July 9–12, 2002. Redlands, CA: Environmental Systems Research Institute. online
  • Reynolds, K.M. 2002b. Logic models as frameworks for thinking about compatibility. Pages 215-224 in Johnson, D.; Haynes, R., eds. Proceedings of the Wood Compatibility Workshop. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-563. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. PDF
  • Reynolds, K.M. 2002c. Social acceptability of natural resource decision-making processes. Pages 245-252 in Johnson, D.; Haynes, R., eds. Proceedings of the Wood Compatibility Workshop. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-563. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. PDF
  • Reynolds, K.M. 2003. A logic approach to design specifications for integrated application of diverse models in forest ecosystem analysis. Pages 379-385 in: Amaro, A., Reed, D. and Soares, P. (eds). Modelling Forest Systems. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK.
  • Reynolds, K.M., Johnson, K.N.; Gordon, S.N. 2003. The science/policy interface in logic‑based evaluation of forest ecosystem sustainability. Forest Policy and Economics 5:433-446. PDF
  • Reynolds, K.M., and Hessburg, P.F. 2005. Decision support for integrated landscape evaluation and restoration planning. Forest Ecology and Management 207:263-278. PDF
  • Reynolds, K.M. 2005a. Decision support for evaluating the U.S. national criteria and indicators for forest ecosystem sustainability. In: Aguirre-Bravo, Celedonio, et al. Eds. Monitoring Science and Technology Symposium: Unifying Knowledge for Sustainability in the Western Hemisphere; 2004 September 20-24; Denver, CO. Proceedings RMRS-P-37CD. Odgen, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. Published on CD-ROM. PDF
  • Reynolds, K.M. 2005b. Integrated decision support for sustainable forest management in the United States: fact or fiction? Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 49:6-23. PDF
  • Reynolds, K.M. 2005c. EMDS 3.0: A Modeling Framework for Coping with Complexity in Environmental Assessment and Planning PDF
  • Reynolds, K.M., S.N. Gordon, and K.N. Johnson. 2008. Using logic to evaluate forest ecosystem sustainability. Forest Criteria and Indicators Analytical Framework and Report Workshop. 18–21 May 2008, Joensuu, Finland. PDF
  • Stolle, L., C. Lingnau, ande J.E. Arce. 2007. Mapeamento da fragilidade ambiental em áreas de plantios florestais. Pages 1871–1873 in Anais XIII Simpósio Brasileiro de Sensoriamento Remoto, Florianópolis, Brasil, 21-26 abril 2007, INPE. PDF
  • Stoms, D.M., McDonald, J.M., and Davis, F.W. 2002. Fuzzy Assessment of Land Suitability for Scientific Research Reserves. Environmental Management 29:545-558. PDF
  • Wang, S.-F. , Y.-K. Chen, and C.-C. Cheng. 2004a. Establishment and application of forest ecosystem management decision support system. Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 52: 41-52. PDF
  • Wang, S.-F., C.-C. Cheng, C.-C. Chang. 2004b. Applying Ecosystem Management Decision Support System on wildlife habitat suitability assessment. Jour. Exp. For. Nat. Taiwan Univ. 19: 69-76. PDF
  • White, M.D., Heilman, G.E. Jr., and Stallcup, J.E. 2005. Science assessment for the Sierra Checkerboard Initiative. Conservation Biology Institute, Encinitas, CA.

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