DPSIR Framework 

The DPSIR framework helps to structure complex human-environmental systems into a sequence from Driver, Pressure, State to Impact and Response (DPSIR). Due to its generic character, it can be used to investigate impacts of soil management on environmental and societal systems, to summarise existing knowledge of soil management research and to detect research gaps. The DPSIR framework analytically links soil management (pressure) to soil functions (state) and its services (impact) that are assessed from the perspective of societal goals such as resource use efficiency or ecosystem services. Informed by the valuation results, society may react / governance might take place (response) that drives soil management in a new direction (creating new drivers and restarting the sequence). 
 What is the DPSIR framework?  

The DPSIR framework describes a five-step causal relationship of human-nature interactions and was developed for the assessment of relations between human activities and the environment (Gabrielson and Bosch, 2003). It builds on the three-step PSI framework which was originally developed by the OECD (1993). The five analytical stages help to structure complex human-environmental systems in a sequence from Driver, Pressure, State to Impact and Response (DPSIR). For example, driving forces, such as human needs for specific nutrition or improved technological facilities, lead to particular human activities in soil management and biomass production. These activities exert pressures on the environment, e.g., soil, which might change its properties and processes (“state”) and corresponding functions. The potential environmental system changes have impacts on the societal system which are then evaluated by impact assessments. Informed by the valuation results, a societal response might take place that alters drivers and resets the causal chain of pressures, states, and impacts.


In this way, the DPSIR framework captures change and dynamic processes in human-nature interactions. It helps to integrate knowledge from different disciplines via indicators in a cycle of impact assessment (Tscherning et al., 2012; Helming et al., 2013). One key strength of the concept lies in its adaptability to various impact areas, objectives and scales of analysis (Tscherning et al., 2012). Potential enhancements of the framework could be designed to also consider interconnections between stages beyond the connection from preceding to following stage (Niemeijer and De Grot, 2008).

Figure 1: The DPSIR framework applied to soil functions in the socio-economic context, modified from Gabrielson and Bosch (2003)  
The DPSIR framework analytically links soil management to soil functions and services that are assessed from the perspective of societal goals such as resource use efficiency or ecosystem services. Its perspective on human-nature interactions makes it possible to integrate scientific evidence from different disciplines into one joint framework, helping to develop comprehensive strategies for soil management that both sustain and improve soil functions. Finally, the integrated knowledge helps to provide scientific evidence for a multitude of societal groups and stakeholders involved in soil management (politicians, farmers, planners etc.) in order to support decision-making.  

Bouma, J, de Vos, JA, Sonneveld, MPW, Heuvelink, GBM, Stoorvogel, JJ. 2008. The Role of Scientists in Multiscale Land Use Analysis: Lessons Learned from Dutch Communities of Practice. Advances in Agronomy 97: 175-237. DOI: 10.1016/S0065-2113(07)00005-3


Gabrielsen, P, Bosch, P. 2003. Environmental Indicators: Typology and Use in Reporting European Environment Agency: Copenhagen, Denmark


Gislanddottir, G, Stocking, M. 2005. Land degradation control and its global environmental benefits. Land Degradation & Development 16: 99-112. DOI: 10.1002/ldr.687


Helming, K, Diehl, K, Geneletti, D, Wiggering, H. 2013. Mainstreaming ecosystem services in European policy impact assessment. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 40: 82-87. DOI: 10.1016/j.eiar.2013.01.004


Holland, JE, Luck, GW, Finlayson, CM. 2015. Threats to food production and water quality in the Murray-Darling Basin of Australia. Ecosystem Services 12: 55-70. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2015.02.008


Niemeijer D, De Groot RS. 2008. Framing environmental indicators: moving from causal chains to causal networks. Environment, Development and Sustainability 10: 89-106. DOI: 10.1007/s10668-006-9040-9


OECD-Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 1993. OECD core set of indicators for environmental performance reviews. Paris: OECD Environment Monographs No. 83.


Schjønning, P, van den Akker, JJH, Keller, T, Greve, MH, Lamandé, M, Simojoki, A, Stettler, M, Arvidsson, J, Breuning-Madsen, H. 2015. Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) Analysis and Risk Assessment for Soil Compaction-A European Perspective. Advances in Agronomy 133: 183-237. DOI: 10.1016/bs.agron.2015.06.001


Tscherning, K, Helming, K, Krippner, B, Sieber, S, Paloma, SG. 2012. Does research applying the DPSIR framework support decision making? Land Use Policy 29: 102-110. DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2011.05.009


Wang, F, Mu, X, Li, R, Fleskens, L, Stringer, LC, Ritsema, CJ. 2015. Co-evolution of soil and water conservation policy and human-environment linkages in the Yellow River Basis since 1949. Science of the Total Environment 508: 166-177. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.11.055