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DPSIR concept

The DPSIR concept is a causal framework for the analysis of interactions between society and the environment. It is based on the description of drivers, pressures, states, impacts and responses (DPSIR).
In HABIT-CHANGE the DPSIR concept is used to describe the cause and effect of habitat changes and identify adequate responses. This framework is used to simplify and structure the complex interaction leading to habitat changes in response to climate change and land use. Drivers, pressures, states, impacts and responses can be described using indicators.
[see also Driver, Pressure, State, Impact, Response and Indicator]

Driver/ Driving Force

In HABIT-CHANGE a driver or driving force is defined as a human need (e.g., need for shelter, food and water; need for mobility, entertainment and culture; need for resource, land, …) which is triggering (directly and indirectly) pressures on biodiversity and habitats. The need for shelter and mobility is a driver for the pressure of climate change. Drivers are not in the core-focus of HABIT-CHANGE but they sometimes related to responses.
Drivers are answering the question: What is the human need triggering certain changes?
[see also DPSIR concept, Pressure, State, Impact, Response]



Following the IPCC definition exposure is: "The nature and degree to which a system is exposed to significant climatic variations" (2001, p.987).
In HABIT-CHANGE the exposure of a habitat is determined by the change of the local climatic situation; it may be represented as either long‐term change in climate conditions, changes in climate variability or changes in the magnitude and frequency of extreme events. Therefore in HABIT-CHANGE exposure (of a habitat) is equivalent to the pressure "climate change". It can be assessed by comparing climatic conditions of today with information from meteorological observations from the past and climate change projections for the future.
Exposure is based on the answer to the question: How is climate changing?
Exposure to the Biebrza National Park can be described as follows: The habitats of the BNP are exposed to an about 2.5° C increase in the mean annual air temperature, to longer drought periods to be expected in spring and summer, and to a decreased snow pack thickness and duration.
[see also Sensitivity and Impact]



Following the IPCC definition (climate) impact is the "consequences of climate change on natural and human systems. Depending on the consideration of adaptation, one can distinguish between potential impacts and residual impacts.
 •   Potential impacts - All impacts that may occur given a projected change in climate,
      without considering adaptation.
 •   Residual impacts - The impacts of climate change that would occur after adaptation"
      (2001, p.989).
The term impact is used in the DPSIR concept and the vulnerability concept of the IPCC. In HABIT-CHANGE the term impact is used as link between the DPSIR concept and the vulnerability concept. In this project an impact is considered a change in the state of a system caused by pressures like climate change or land use. HABIT-CHANGE is focused on environmental impacts (esp. on habitats). The assessment of economic impacts on ecosystem services or their life supporting abilities (ecosystems functions) is not considered main interest of HABIT-CHANGE.
Climate impacts may be positive or negative. They can be the result of extreme events or more gradual changes in climate variables showing either directly or indirectly effect. Examples for direct impacts are changed abiotic conditions (e.g., soil moisture) for protected habitats. Examples of indirect impacts are changes of agricultural practices due to increasing drought stress. Already observed impacts of CC on protected habitats should be monitored, while modeling will provide insight in new impacts.
(Climate) impact is answering the question: How will protected habitats react to climate change and what changes are likely to happen?
[see also Exposure, Sensitivity and DPSIR concept, Pressure, State, Response as well as Indicator]



In HABIT-CHANGE an indicator is defined as a selected quantitative or qualitative parameter or set of such parameters which is combined with a regulation how to do the measurement or assessment. Indicators should be combined with values and if available also with thresholds. They include a dimension unit, if a quantitative assessment is possible. Indicators can be used to measure and describe the characteristic of a phenomenon/system/habitat of study (variable) or the impact of a pressure or a response. They need to be target oriented (e.g., able to assess changes). Indicators of climate change and land use change on habitat level need to be:
 •    responsive to habitat development,
 •    easy to obtain and understand, and shall
 •    indicate other and larger scale processes, and should be
 •    quantifiable.
An indicator is answering the question: How can characteristic and change of an environmental phenomenon or a habitat be measured and described?
[see also Parameter, Variable and DPSIR concept, Pressure, State, Impact, Response]



In HABIT-CHANGE a parameter is defined as attribute of an object. A parameter can be measured or assessed in qualitative or quantitative terms. Parameters are considered raw data. There are several parameters that are regularly monitored (e.g., soil moisture, water discharge, species abundance). Parameters can be used for/as part of indicators to measure variables.
Parameters are answering the question: What is the qualitative or quantitative condition of a facet of an object like at a given time?
[see also Variable and Indicator]


In HABIT-CHANGE pressures are defined as consequences of human activities which have the potential to cause or contribute to adverse effects (impacts). Examples for pressures are release of chemicals, physical and biological agents; human induced climate change; extraction and use of resources; patterns of land use. Pressures can be separated in CC related pressures and non-CC related pressures.
Pressures are answering the question: What is the physical cause of adverse changes of habitats?
[see also DPSIR concept, Driver, State, Impact, Response and Indicator]



In HABIT-CHANGE a response is a human action which attempts to prevent, eliminate, compensate, reduce or adapt to negative consequences (impacts) of climate change and land use on habitats in protected areas. A response can be targeted at any part of the chain between driving forces and impacts. There are planned as well as autonomous responses. Management options in terms of measures and strategies can have a strong relation to drivers or pressures.
A response is answering the question: What can be done to prevent, counteract or adapt to negative effects on habitats?
[see also DPSIR concept, Driver, Pressure, Impact, State and Sensitivity as well as Variable, Indicator



Following the IPCC definition “sensitivity is the degree to which a system is affected, either adversely or beneficially, by climate variability or change. The effect may be direct (e.g., a change in crop yield in response to a change in the mean, range or variability of temperature) or indirect (e.g., damages caused by an increase in the frequency of coastal flooding due to sea-level rise)” (2001, p.993).
In HABIT-CHANGE the sensitivity of a habitat is considered a result of its characteristics and existing or future pressures to the habitat. The habitat characteristics are influenced by its location, bio-climatic envelope, genetic diversity, regeneration rates of species or potential ecological niche. Existing non-climatic pressures like land use/land use change will modify the susceptibility of habitats to climate change on the local level. Hence, they are considered essential part of habitat sensitivity. The Conservation Status can help to assess habitat sensitivity on a local scale.
Sensitivity is answering the question: How sensitive are protected habitats to changing climatic conditions (temperature and moisture changes) considering their characteristics and other pressures?
[see also Exposure and Impact]


In HABIT-CHANGE the state is defined as the combination of the physical, chemical and biological conditions of a system at a certain moment in time. The state is not a process. In HABIT-CHANGE changes in state are considered an impact. The state can be assessed in qualitative and quantitative terms at different times (e.g., 1970, 2010, 2050) using indicators. The state of a (NATURA 2000) habitat is strongly related to its conservation status.
The state is answering the question: What is the environmental condition of a habitat like at a given time?
[see also DPSIR concept, Driver, Pressure, Impact, Response and Indicator]



In HABIT-CHANGE a variable is defined as characteristic of the environment. Variables can "vary" and change over time. Mostly a variable is an abstract idea (e.g., like conservation status) or phenomenon. It can combine a set of attributes. When operationalised the variable can be measured using indicators.
A variable is answering the question: What is the characteristic of a phenomenon, the environment or a habitat like at a given time?
[see also Parameter, Indicator and Impact]

IPPC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2001. Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Annex B: Glossary of Terms. Available at [Accessed 5 May 2011].