Reflections on the use of Bayesian belief networks for adaptive management

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34 Citations (Scopus)


A broad range of tools are available for integrated water resource management (IWRM). In the EU research project NeWater, a hypothesis exists that IWRM cannot be realised unless current management regimes undergo a transition toward adaptive management (AM). This includes a structured process of learning, dealing with complexity, uncertainty etc. We assume that it is no longer enough for managers and tool researchers to understand the complexity and uncertainty of the outer natural system-the environment. It is just as important, to understand what goes on in the complex and uncertain participatory processes between the water managers, different stakeholders, authorities and researchers when a specific tool and process is used for environmental management. The paper revisits a case study carried out 2001-2004 where the tool Bayesian networks (BNs) was tested for groundwater management with full stakeholder involvement. With the participation of two researchers (the authors) and two water managers previously involved in the case study, a qualitative interview was prepared and carried out in June 2006. The aim of this ex-post evaluation was to capture and explore the water managers' experience with Bayesian belief networks when used for integrated and adaptive water management and provide a narrative approach for tool enhancement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1036
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


  • Adaptive management
  • Bayesian belief networks
  • Groundwater management
  • IWRM
  • Newater
  • Organizational complexity
  • Participatory integrated assessment
  • Qualitative interview
  • Social learning
  • Tool enhancement

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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