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Replacing confusing concepts of planning (there are some 40 definitions), the guidance system unifies geographic information systems work (GIS), simulation, optimization, ecological data bases, and general information (e.g, a 100-page glossary available in electronic form) to allow the landowner to learn about the land and make decisions appropriate for the present and accounting for every decision or change on the future system.
Guidance is a large, complicated system under continual development. It is a system that produces a plan for each of many areas such as a system of parks, forests, refuges, military areas, or wildlife management areas. Of course it can produce a plan for a single ownership. It has people, space, past research findings, computer software, databases, and hardware all working to produce, on demand, a "document" which was once called a "plan." Each document or product provides guidance to managers who have the knowledge of local situations, expertise, and responsibility for decision making. Such decision making is typical for complex natural resource systems. Such system invariably have conflicting objectives and require trade-offs. Decision-making for them is believed to be among the most difficult, multi-faceted, high risk, and long-term in the world.
A singular, generic system produces a unique book (one rarely produced on paper because of its size and because it is readily seen at a web site in color) for each management area or unit. The book is like a good newspaper, out-of-date tomorrow. Guidance shifts the emphasis from the plan to a planning system, a computer-based entity being continually updated, revised, edited, expanded, and made more interactive than the day before. An entire book may be obtained by the landowner, but chapters, tables, figures, and maps may also be retrieved from a computer screen or page printer. Ancillary products such as photographs of seeds or slides of pathogenic materials may be included. The total plan may not be of interest on a particular day.
Guidance may help solve many major problems of land use management and provide site-specific answers in select areas of conflict. It will increase the efficiency and quality of decision making, thereby providing substantial cost and time savings to both managers and citizens throughout the regions of its use.
The system is composed of (1) a fundamental knowledge base; (2) tabular, statistical, and other data and analyses; (3) legal, regulatory, and policy texts; (4) summary information; (5) impact analyses or consequence reports; (6) optimum solutions to multiple-use problems; (7) ancillary products such as user texts and computer programs that can be down-loaded for intensive study of problem areas; (8) comprehensive guidance documents; and (9) computer-aided training modules (to improve use of the results). These all include graphics, maps, and dynamic media. The operational system is believed to provide a stable resource in the face of changing personnel and offers continuity in knowledge about local ecosystems and management policies.
Guidance integrates concepts of ecology, economics, esthetics, energetics, and enforcement in a multi-dimensional approach to major, complex land use problems through a centralized, comprehensive data base accessed directly by the system staff. The primary product of the system is a plan or plan part. Other outputs show in a variety of ways the consequences of any major land use act (for example, building a road extension). The consequences are shown in terms of the primary and secondary factors impinging on the action. The consequences of various types of approaches are traded off and combined in an R* index or resource-area system performance measure. The index can be used to expand and enhance multiple-use and ecosystem management decision procedures.
Within the system, overall scores of the managed area are computed under varying conditions, thereby allowing comparisons to be made among the present conditions (described by a performance measure R) and the optimum condition, one with a score of R*. In addition, there are procedures to gain wide citizen or key decision-maker inputs in a practical format. A modified benefit-to-cost algorithm is used, incorporating expert systems advances and artificial intelligence with non-linear optimization all placed on the land using the power of modern geographic information systems.
The system is a synthesizer, seeking to unify expertise from the field, science, business, government, and industry, all directed toward the benefit of people from natural resources contained on or enhanced in the surroundings of each management unit. The unique combination of expertise incorporated in the advancing system has the potential of reducing conflicts and encouraging cooperative efforts and partnerships that are financially beneficial, not only on but near each land unit.
Because planning is poorly defined and because there are many concepts surrounding it, an alternative phrase is needed for this, a new system, that deals with describing and selecting optimum pathways to a desired future. The system presents reasonable thoughtful people with practical, cost-effective ways to that future. The name "guidance system"denotes a dynamic, real-time system on the world wide web (WWW) that provides advice, information, and screened suggestions to responsible decision makers who are working with large, complex, diverse wildland and natural resource systems. Results of the system support and guide decisions. Guidance is evolving to become that system.
The Major Concept
Guidance is a comprehensive, dynamic planning system that aids decision makers by:
Unique Details of Guidance, the System
See early notes on the system description.
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Last revision January 17, 2000.