What is the role of hydroinformatics in improving the balance between profitable rural landscapes and environmental quality? Growing recognition of the need for integrated approaches to land and water management, taking account of socio-economic development and environmental considerations, has given rise to concepts such as sustainable development and Integrated River Basin Management. Models and information systems have a place in integrated land–water management, but only if researchers and practitioners engage with wider concerns and work across disciplines. Thus a balanced approach to decision-making is proposed involving partnerships between stakeholders and researchers in the natural and social sciences, using quantitative and qualitative tools. Involvement of stakeholders tied to all scales is essential to building successful partnerships and thus the importance of public engagement is emphasized.

A multi-scale land and water management framework is proposed that attempts to capitalize on current expertise. The place of hydroinformatics tools such as models, GIS and flow visualization software is discussed and a number of specific tools are presented including a novel decision support tool: the Decision Support Matrix. The use of conceptual models to aid communication is discussed and two attempts to apply the framework from projects in the UK and the Western Balkans are presented.

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