Friday, 27 October 2017

SEPON development post II

Social and Economic Pressure on Nature (SEPON) is fun! I'm enjoying the development of this index which will hopefully provide a guide to the pressure and utilisation of natural resources in just about any geographic area in Australia. In my introductory post I outlined some of the concepts that I would be adopting. This post is, however, mainly just an update and examples on some of the output of the SEPON model and a note on a couple of model tweaks.

First the tweaks. At very high resource pressures the model 'gave up'. There was little ability to differentiate at these high pressures. Essentially, the model could not determine whether a very high pressure was different from a moderately pressure. I've introduced a tweak in the index to slightly better resolve the higher end of the natural resource pressures essentially giving the model the ability to differentiate between 'Moderate', 'High' and 'Very High'. Interestingly, this change seems to have affected rural SEPON index values more than cities, pushing some scores up, especially due to the effect of transport pressures. For example Byron Shire Council which already had a relatively poor score of -9 actually turned out to be a -13. Walcha Shire Council had its value of 6 reduced to 2 (remember a ore positive value indicates an increased likelyhood that people are using natural resources of the area in a sustainable way and vice versa). What is a surprise is that people that live in Byron Shire Council and Sydney City now have equal scores. My gut feeling is that the effect of transport (D5) is too highly weighted in the model... I'll have to go through the assumptions again and double check. There might be another tweak needed.

Expanded Local Government area SEPON Index Values without NRU concept applied

Where matters!
An example I'd like to show is the difference in scores in two areas Armidale Regional Council and the Armidale ABS Statistical Area (SA2). The example on the right serves to demonstrate that the Armidale ABS statistical area has an apparently overall adverse pressure on natural resources, however, the whole local government area is apparently sustainable. I.e. The manner that people use natural resources in the rest of the LGA effectively 'subsidise' the Armidale ABS Statistical Area. This seems a fairly reasonable observation especially relating to the pressure on land resources (D1). Note that this model was run before aforementioned tweak was made for high pressures.

Also, I wanted to show what happens when I start applying preliminary aspects of the Natural Resource Utilisation (NRU) concept to the Armidale Regional Council and Armidale ABS Statistical Area. Unfortunately the selection of these regions is not necessarily very good with regard to illustrating NRU, a more built up area such as Sydney might illustrate the concept better. Essentially the scores were unchanged for those two areas... I think that the adjusted SEPON index value including NRU for Byron and Sydney LGAs might be a good one to run through. I speculate that this will make Byron LGA better than Sydney. but that will be a future post.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

SEPON development post I

Socio-Economic Pressure on Nature (SEPON) is an index under development to provide a semi-quantitative method to estimate the likelihood an individual in a given location is having a negative or positive impact on Earth resources.

The present draft version of SEPON provides an index value of between -40 and +40. If a geographic area has a value of 0 a person living in that geographic area is 'likely' to have little impact on the long term environmental condition of the area. The higher positive number indicates an increased likelihood that a person living in that geographic area will have a net sustainability. Conversely a strongly negative value means that the impact of a person living in that area cannot be sustained overall by that geographic area (i.e. the 'footprint' of all the people living in that geographical area extends beyond the areas geographical boundaries).

Example output from SEPON for selected local governments.
The index uses various attributes from numerous sources that can be applied to specific geographic
areas. SEPON can be applied to small (e.g. suburban scale) or large areas (e.g. states) where consistent data is available across those areas. The draft index datasets is presently very NSW centric and includes Roads & Maritime Services vehicle data, Australian Bureau of Statistics population and dwelling data, Human Services negative income and long term transfer payment data, Office of Environment and Heritage landuse data and more.

The example provided shows the very minimalist output at this stage. The final line with the bold numbers is the SEPON index value. The example areas are local government areas and I think that they are somewhat intuitive when you consider the base information fed into SEPON. People in the Sydney City Council geographical area appear to generally have a footprint a fair bit greater than the actual geographical area. In other words Sydney City Council requires more natural resources to sustain it than it actually could ever sustain within its geographical area. The main reason for this is the arable land required to sustain the population and the nature of housing the population. Sydney City Council appears to be a net 'consumer' of natural resources.

Compare Sydney City to the Walcha Shire Council area. A lightly populated area in the New England tablelands, Walcha overall appears to be a net 'supplier' of natural resources. However, some factors such as transport generally has a relatively substantial negative natural resource impact and therefore the area doesn't have a very high positive value. Compare this with Byron Shire, which although predominately rural in nature has a very high demand of natural resources.

Surprisingly, and maybe anomalously, Fairfield Council has a near neutral SEPON index value. This seems to be particularly due to the manner in which transport is used, the manner in which the population is housed. I will need to return to the index to undertake some qualitative analysis to determine if this is reasonable or not for this local government area.

Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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