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Agricultural and Environmental Informatics, Governance and Management: Emerging Research Applications

Agricultural and Environmental Informatics, Governance and Management: Emerging Research Applications
Author(s)/Editor(s): Zacharoula Andreopoulou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), Basil Manos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), Nico Polman (Wageningen University, The Netherlands) and Davide Viaggi (University of Bologna, Italy)
Copyright: ©2011
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-621-3
ISBN13: 9781609606213
ISBN10: 1609606213
EISBN13: 9781609606220


View Agricultural and Environmental Informatics, Governance and Management: Emerging Research Applications on the publisher's website for pricing and purchasing information.


Information and communication technologies (ICT) play an increasingly important role in the socio-economic environment of rural areas, and e-governance can empower citizens by facilitating their access to information and participatory decision-making.

Agricultural and Environmental Informatics, Governance and Management: Emerging Research Applications is a state-of-the-art reference book which explores how rural policymakers and stakeholders can use information and communication technologies to sustainably manage agricultural and natural resources. The book explores how ICT can support public governance and rural decision-making, how supply chain and agricultural informatics tools and methods can improve agricultural management, and how ICT is especially useful for environmental, resource, and ecosystems management and for geospatial landscape planning. The book integrates cross-disciplinary knowledge about agricultural and environmental applications of informatics, connecting science and policy on a subject critical to the present and future quality of life in rural areas.

Table of Contents



Contemporary societies and economic systems are characterized by continuous and sometimes fast processes of change that also require continuous adaptations in institutional settings and decision processes. New information and communication technologies (ICT) play an important role in such processes, and they can change the socio-economic environment of rural areas. As sustainability has been globally a key goal at different jurisdictional levels ranging from local and regional authorities, to national governments and the European Union (EU), informatics gains importance also related to governance and management issues.

ICT has become the means to advance the public sector’s performance in terms of information and service delivery, to encourage citizen participation in the decision-making process, and to make government more accountable, transparent, and effective. In particular, e-governance empowers citizens as it potentially facilitates their access to information and participatory decision-making and can advance their social and economic perspective towards sustainable development in respect to their present and future quality of life. ICTs are key elements supporting the growth of e-governance initiatives and projects. It also gives opportunities to regions to share knowledge more easily and to cooperate in serving citizens.

A similar development can be observed in private sectors at different levels, like more efficient coordination in trans-national networks, faster exchange of information between different levels (chain management), and sharing knowledge in globally operating non-governmental organizations (NGOs). As a consequence, governance and management options using ICT have also gained a growing importance. More recently, governance in agriculture and natural resources has to face the increased multiplicity of connections between different environmental aspects and decisions of local, regional, national, and supranational relevance, with high coordination costs and exchange between administrative entities and actors across the public/private and the expert/stakeholder divides. 

Agricultural and environmental governance at different levels of institutions comprises a wide range of issues, such as decision and risk analysis for management, mathematical methods for systems modeling, forecasting and optimization, agricultural and environmental statistics and applications, agricultural and environmental data and data management, ecological modeling and assessment, simulation, agricultural and environmental geographical information systems (GIS) and spatial information technologies, and monitoring techniques of quality for agricultural and environmental applications. 

In that general context, informatics can play a key role while supporting the implementation of public and private governance arrangements, either at a local, national, international, or transnational level. Environmental and agricultural informatics can be defined as research and system development focusing on the environmental and agricultural sciences relating to the collection, storage, processing, modeling, interpretation, and dissemination of data and information. Environmental and agricultural research, impact assessment, planning, and management have become increasingly reliant on computer-based approaches in the past few decades. GIS, remote sensing, statistical and dynamic simulation modeling, for example, are utilized in a variety of scientific and professional endeavors, ranging from landscape mapping to watershed ecology.

The discipline of informatics can support tools and techniques aiming to produce high quality environmental and agricultural data and knowledge, in usable formats, to serve the needs of citizens, local agencies and authorities, NGOs, and government divisions at all levels, national and intra-national. Network technologies can integrate geospatial technologies aiming to sustain agricultural and environmental networks, and applications can be deployed. ICT can have important consequences by reducing transaction costs, enabling transactions over long distances, allowing lower costs of exchanging information, and enabling new forms or governance within new networks. 

The original idea behind this volume lies in the experiences of the editors and their involvement in ICT, environmental and agricultural management projects, and governance. We identified the need to present in a book the latest results of relevant research, either in its pure theoretical aspects or in applied instances, to serve as an excellent dissemination tool for ICT, management, and governance applied to agricultural and natural resources. The book integrates knowledge, both across disciplines and between science and policy.

The use of new technologies, models, methods, conceptual frameworks, techniques, and principles is emphasized. This proved to be a challenging task; we asked vigorous researchers to offer their feedback from the design and modeling phases of informatics tools, to the final actual applications plus cases and perspectives of using them. Both researchers and practitioners have shared their experiences and discussed novel approaches to agricultural and environmental management and governance, and the interconnections between such areas, considering the multi-level context and trying to provide insights beyond the individual cases. Elaborating on extensive case studies of applications within agriculture and chain management, natural resources conservation and environment, along with government policies, geo referred spatial mapping, and landscape planning have contributed to the overall objectives of the book.

The target audience of this volume is composed of professionals and researchers working in the field of agricultural and environmental informatics, management, and governance. As the book introduces the new information and communication technologies deployed agriculture and environmental management with beneficial results and implementations, it is expected to attract the interest of many academic researchers and practitioners in IT and ICT based governance and management issues around the world. 

Academics and students will be able to use such a book as a state-of-the-art reference book for agricultural and environmental applications of the informatics technologies regarding governance and management. Stakeholders of different levels can especially gain from practices and experiences applied by their counterparts in different parts of the world, thus improving their effectiveness, as the techniques applied in these applications can be extended and applied to other areas as well. For example, researchers from fields like operational research, agricultural and environmental economists and engineers, geographers, agronomists, data base management technicians, farming industry practitioners, and policy makers in developing organizations, governance institutions, rural, regional, and management authorities may have an interest.

The book is divided in four sections addressing 4 main areas for agricultural and environmental informatics, governance, and management: (1) public governance; (2) supply chain and agricultural informatics tools and methods; (3) environmental issues; and finally (4) geospatial planning.

The first section concerns public governance regarding local authority websites in terms of functionality and international comparisons, an institutional framework for analyzing sustainability, ex-post analyses of agri-environment schemes, participatory ex-ante assessment modeling for environmental governance and rural redevelopment, the dynamic of public debates, sustainable development in EU initiatives, such as Natura 2000, and the integrated system “Environment - Agriculture – Health.” The focus of this part is on actual and potential ways ICT supports public governance and rural policies.

The second section covers agricultural management using supply chain and agricultural informatics tools and methods, such as agricultural policies in respect to ICT adoption in farm management, modeling approaches for advanced agricultural fleet management systems, developing of appropriate sustainability indicators, such as in soil quality, electronics, and mobile government service provision and agro-food chains such as milk supply chain, quality management systems within meat product chains, and agri-food industry. 

The third section focuses on issues about environment and resource conservation as governance and ecosystems management approach to the conservation of biodiversity, e-governance and management of inland water ecosystems using time-series analysis of fishery production, environmental quality monitoring, conservation in Natura 2000 network, marine living resource management and fishing effort control, games, and NGOs.

The fourth section addresses geospatial landscape planning regarding extensive cases of participatory mapping and GIS for landscape planning, territorial analysis with spatial Multi Criteria Decision Analysis, territorial management of the impact of agricultural policies, and environmental quality monitoring for decision-making emerging from EU Water Framework Directive EU 2000/60.

Zacharoula Andreopoulou, 
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Basil Manos, 
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Nico Polman, 
LEI, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Davide Viaggi
University of Bologna, Italy

Reviews and Testimonials

The target audience of this volume is composed of professionals and researchers working in the field of agricultural and environmental informatics, management, and governance. As the book introduces the new information and communication technologies deployed agriculture and environmental management with beneficial results and implementations, it is expected to attract the interest of many academic researchers and practitioners in IT and ICT based governance and management issues around the world.

– Zacharoula Andreopoulou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece; Basil Manos, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece; Nico Polman, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; and Davide Viaggi, University of Bologna, Italy

Author's/Editor's Biography

Zacharoula Andreopoulou (Ed.)
Zacharoula Andreopoulou holds a BS degree in Mathematics, a BS degree in Forestry and Natural Environment, and a PhD degree in Forest Informatics, all from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where she is currently an assistant professor in the Laboratory of Forest Informatics. She teaches courses on networks and Web services, databases, project management, and software programming with focus on the environment and sustainable development. Her scientific and research interests include networks and Web services, databases, modeling and project management in natural resources and environment, sustainable development, and regional development applications. She is an active member of scientific societies and she has organized and participated in many international and domestic conferences. She is the author, co-author, and editor in books regarding environmental informatics, and her recent scientific publications include papers in various international Journals.

Basil Manos (Ed.)
Basil Manos has been holding teaching and research positions in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) since 1976. He is a Professor at the Department of Agricultural Economics of School of Agriculture and Director of the Laboratory of Agricultural Informatics of this School. His research interests are in Operational Research models in Agriculture, Decision Support Systems, Regional Planning, Sustainability and Efficiency, Environmental Management. Professor Manos holds B.S. degrees in Mathematics and Economics from AUTH, a M.Sc. degree in Operational Research from the London School of Economics, and a Ph. D. in Agricultural Economics from AUTH. He has published papers in European Journal of Operational Research, Interfaces, Journal of Environmental Management, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, Regional Studies, Journal of Policy Modeling, Water policy, Supply Chain Management-An International Journal, British Food Journal etc. He has conducted research in many National and EU funded projects, coordinating some of them, since 1976.

Nico Polman (Ed.)
Nico B.P. Polman is as senior researcher responsible for investigations regarding institutional economics, scaling and governance, as well as the impact of agriculture on rural land use, including aspects related to regional development and rural policy. He is employed at LEI, part of Wageningen UR, Research area Regional Economy and Land Use. He has experience in coordinating research projects for the Dutch government and participated in a number of European projects.

Davide Viaggi (Ed.)
Davide Viaggi is professor in Agricultural economics and rural appraisal at the University of Bologna. He holds a first degree in Agricultural Sciences, a European Master in Agricultural economics with specialisation in Environmental and resource economics, and a PhD in Agricultural Economics and Policy. His main research interests include agricultural policy evaluation, economics of water use in agriculture, economics of innovation in the agri-food sector, design of agri-environmental schemes, environmental evaluation, and farm management. He coordinates the fp7 project CAP-IRE and was involved in several fp5, fp6, and fp7 research projects. The results of his research activities are collected in more than 170 publications, including articles in some of the main international journals in agricultural economics, water policy, and environmental and resource economics.


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