Using participatory modelling to compensate for data scarcity in environmental planning: A case study from India

H.P. Ritzema, J. Froebrich, R. Raju, Ch. Sreenivas, R.A.L. Kselik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Participatory modelling has provided a new approach to overcome the problem of data scarcity which formerly interfered with the environmental planning for the restoration of the Kolleru-Upputeru wetland ecosystem on the east coast of Andhra Pradesh in South India. New ways had to be found to address the shortcomings of traditionally validated simulation models. The traditional validation process was replaced by joint plausibility discussions and shared vision building in order to improve the understanding of cause-effect relationships and proposals for restoration measures. This study has aimed to match the tacit knowledge of the local stakeholders with explicit scientific knowledge in order to create (i) a mutual basis for an integrated approach as opposed to single-issue measures and (ii) a mutual agreement on follow-up steps needed to sustain both the livelihood of the people as well as the wetland ecosystem. The challenge was to address the hydrological and social complexity. On the basis of a literature review, input data for model simulations were generated from the location-specific knowledge of stakeholders and a rapid field appraisal. The model simulations were used to predict the effects of a number of restoration options. In two workshops, these restoration options were discussed with the stakeholders in order to improve the mutual understanding of the complexity of the wetland system and to reach an agreement on the outlines of an integrated action plan. The participatory modelling approach proved to be a useful tool to obtain a consensus of opinions among the stakeholders
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1450-1458
JournalEnvironmental Modelling & Software
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • lessons
  • stakeholder
  • drainage
  • lake

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