Introduction

The driver-pressure-state-impact-response (DPSIR) model is a tool that helps to identify and describe processes and interactions in human-environmental systems.

It facilitates the analysis of specific cause-effect relationships in past, recent, and future developments. The approach is based on the pressure-state-response (PSR) model that was developed in the 1970s by the Canadian statistician Anthony Fried (Figure 1). It assumes that a

Figure 1 PSR model.

Figure 2 DPSIR model.

Figure 2 DPSIR model.

certain stress or pressure on a system is followed by an appropriate response ('stress-response' model). The PSR approach was adopted and enhanced by the OECD's state of the environment (SOE) researchers. It provides a good basis for the explanation of mainly environmental issues. It simplifies complex systems relations to one-to-one linkages which can be unsatisfying in more complex cases.

A variation is the driving force-state-response (DSR) model that has, for example, been used by the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development (UNCSD). This model focuses on human demands and activities that affect the natural system. The resulting changes in the natural system induce societal response. For the description of these societal-environmental interrelations, the DSR model is satisfactory and widely used. If further components of human-environmental systems (as, e.g., essential economic processes and changes) are to consider, the capacities of the DSR model are limited. Therefore, it has subsequently been expanded to the recent DPSIR model.

Within the DPSIR approach a certain human demand for goods and products (e.g., agricultural and industrial products, energy, transport, and housing) is assumed as a driving force of human actions (Figure 2). These actions (basically in form of different kinds of land use) lead to a pressure on the environment and the particular ecosystems. This input affects the state of the ecosystems that may have an impact on human health, ecosystem health, or financial value. According to kind and degree of the impacts, decision makers and responsible stakeholders have to determine appropriate responses to counteract these impacts.

The use of indicators for the description, quantification, and monitoring of the individual process components improves the performance of the DPSIR approach.

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