A Survey of Current Issues
New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Edited by Tom Tietenberg and Henk Folmer
Chapter 2: Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Spatial Analysis in Resource and Environmental Economics
Ian Bateman, Wanhong Yang and Peter Boxall 1. INTRODUCTION Most, if not all, of the problems addressed by resource and environmental economists have a spatial dimension by nature. Assets such as natural resources and disamenities such as pollution emissions can be located in space. That location deﬁnes a myriad of proximities with other resources, the complexity of which poses a substantial empirical challenge to economic analyses of resource and pollution management decisions. Meeting this challenge constitutes one of the major tasks which economists must address if they are to provide meaningful inputs to the decision process. Recent years have witnessed what we suggest are the ﬁrst steps in a revolution in the way in which economists incorporate spatial complexity within their analyses. This revolution is fuelled by the importation from other disciplines (notably applied geography) of both innovative techniques of spatial analysis and new tools for facilitating such analyses, in particular geographical information systems (GIS). While still in its early days, the use of GIS within environmental and resource economics is growing rapidly. Examples of applications already range from simple data preparation and mapping tasks to more complex data integration and manipulation exercises. These have aﬀorded demonstrable and signiﬁcant improvements in analytical rigour (for overviews of examples see Bateman et al. 2002a; 2003). However, as economists seek to address more complex problems, so the advances in data availability and interrogation aﬀorded by GIS increasingly need to be supplemented by more sophisticated spatial analysis methods. This chapter...
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