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Managing the marine environment: is the DPSIR framework holistic enough?

Atkins, Jonathan P.; Gregory, Amanda J.; Burdon, Daryl; Elliott, Michael


Daryl Burdon

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Professor Mike Elliott
Emeritus Professor of Estuarine and Coastal Sciences/ Research Professor, Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies


Ever increasing and diverse use of the marine environment and consequent impacts on marine life, habitats and landscapes make prominent the need for policy and policy-making procedures that promote resilience and sustainability. In this paper, we focus on the Drivers-Pressures-State Changes-Impacts-Responses (DPSIR) framework, which seeks to represent and hence enable the management of key relationships formed between natural systems, designed systems and social systems. The DPSIR framework is widely used to assess and manage the impact of policy changes and associated problems; however, a change is evident in recent applications of the approach: an expert-driven, evidence-focussed mode of use is giving way to the use of the framework as a heuristic device to facilitate engagement, communication and understanding between different stakeholders. In this paper, an assessment is made of how holistic DPSIR practice is in the context of the marine environment and we argue that the paradigmatic turn from realist to interpretivist reveals the DPSIR approach's multiparadigmatic and holistic potential.


Atkins, J. P., Gregory, A. J., Burdon, D., & Elliott, M. (2011). Managing the marine environment: is the DPSIR framework holistic enough?. Systems research and behavioral science, 28(5), 497-508.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 31, 2011
Online Publication Date Oct 24, 2011
Publication Date 2011-09
Print ISSN 1092-7026
Electronic ISSN 1099-1743
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 5
Pages 497-508
Keywords DPSIR framework; ecosystem services; marine policy; complex adaptive systems; sustainability
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