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Limiting the total area on which an activity can be done each year

Hi all,

I'm working with RIOS to map conservation activities that can be done on a degraded landscape.  

Within my basket of activities, exclosures (simply limited access of cattle to an area) are the cheapest activity, so RIOS suggests many, many hectares of exclosures.

However, this is not practical. Putting too much land under exclosures would put too much pressure on livestock for grazing. I would like to tell RIOS that a limited of number of hectares can be put under exclosures in a given year. 

It doesn't seem like RIOS can do this, but I thought I would post anyway to check for others' ideas as well as to make a suggestion for future versions.

Eager to hear your thoughts!


  • swolnyswolny Member, NatCap Staff

    It sounds like you are assigning your budget using only a "Floating" budget value (say $100,000/year). If you do this, RIOS will choose the most cost-effective activity, which generally translates to choosing the cheapest option, in this case exclosures. While RIOS does not let you say directly that only a specific number of hectares may be selected, it does let you assign a specific budget per activity that RIOS may spend, which is a way of working around this. So, in the Select Budget tab of RIOS, instead of defining a Floating Budget, you'd assign an amount of money to exclosures that corresponds to how many hectares may be put under exclosures in a year. Then, if you also say "If activity money cannot be spent... Report remainder", no additional money will be spent on exclosures IF you do not also assign a floating budget.

    You'll still have issues if you do indeed want to use a floating budget, as that money will continue to be spent on the cheapest option. To avoid this, you'd assign activity-specific values to all activities, and again make sure to "Report remainder" if other activities' money cannot be spent, or that could also be spent on exclosures. Looking at the results, you'd see which activities have more money assigned to them than RIOS can spend, and you can manually reassign that as desired.

    I do hear you that it would be simpler to have an option that says "only x hectares may be selected for this activity, regardless of where the money comes from" and we'll note that for future versions.

    ~ Stacie
  • Thanks Stacie,

    I guess my case is unique. My budget is in terms of person-days. In Ethiopia there are annual labour campaigns in which farmers give 30 days of free labour. Since I want RIOS to spatially optimize where labour should best be invested in the various activities, I can't give an activity-specific budget for exclosures (and the other activities).

    Thanks for your help.

  • adrianvogladrianvogl Member, NatCap Staff
    Hi James,
    I wanted to add a few more ideas to Stacie's answer above. 

    If you do not have actual budgets for your activities, you can control how much area is converted by using "dummy" budgets.  For example, you assign a cost to all your activities as $1/ha.  Then you decide how much area (number of hectares) it is feasible to convert to activities.  Say you decide that activities can be feasibly implemented on a total of 3,000 ha in your study area.  You can either enter this as a floating budget of $3,000 that would be allocated based on the cost-effectiveness.  Or, you can enter an activity budget of, for example, $1000 for exclosures (limiting the exclosures to 1,000 ha) and $2000 split among the other activities or on the floating budget as Stacie suggested.

    Remember, too, that activity cost does not have to be in any particular currency, you could in fact put in the activity costs as the number of labor hours required per hectare to implement each activity.  Then the floating budget and/or activity budgets would be the number of labor hours available to allocate.

    Another option is to bypass the final activities portfolios used by RIOS, and make use of the intermediate outputs to manually generate the portfolio.  The intermediate files you would use are \your_workspace\1_investment_portfolio_adviser_workspace\activity_scores\activityname_prioritization.tif.
    These rasters give the cost-effectiveness scores for each activity, restricted to the areas where they are allowed.  You can use these rasters and search for the highest score activities, using GIS to manually select the number of pixels that are appropriate given your labor allocation budget.


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