Mapping regional metabolism: a decision-support tool for natural resource management

Janis Lynn Birkeland, John Schooneveldt

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper


This report arises from a project entitled “Metabolic mapping as a new decision support tool for natural resource management”. The researchers applied originally for financial assistance for a three-year study to undertake a preliminary sustainability audit of the Australian Capital Region using material flows analysis, and to develop a method of mapping these stocks and flows as an natural resource management decision-making tool. Land & Water Australia suggested a one-year study to explore the benefits of the approach before considering any wider application of material flow analysis. In particular, Land & Water Australia asked the researchers to: 1. identify the available data sources in the Australian Capital Region for substances (water, energy and wood) that are necessary for material flow analysis and that are likely to be available in other regions in Australia 2. provide an assessment of available data, identify data gaps, present initial findings for the metabolism of the Australian Capital Region, and highlight the potential merit of mapping regional metabolism. 3. examine in depth the potential usefulness of regional metabolism studies for Australia 4. examine the relationship between the findings of the regional metabolism grant and the grant outcomes for the urban metabolism of Canberra–Queanbeyan 5. provide) some preliminary maps based on available data … to demonstrate/explore their communicative effectiveness. The report explains and justifies the value of material flow analysis as a method to inform natural resource management at the regional level. It further develops material flow analysis methodology as a heuristic basis upon which to develop strategies to foster rural revitalisation. Also, it resolves some long-standing dilemmas concerning data collection and reconciliation at the regional level by presenting a new approach to the determination of bioregional and systems boundaries. Finally, the report develops some methodological concepts to facilitate bioregional planning, and demonstrates how metabolic mapping might be further developed and applied more broadly in policy development and community decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherLand Water Australia
Number of pages69
ISBN (Print)0642761027
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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