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 Multi-Criteria Analysis Shell for Spatial Decision Support



People with a stake in land use decision-making including natural resources management groups, agricultural scientists, policy makers and land management researchers, often need to access and analyse large amounts of environmental, social and economic information. MCAS-S provides a powerful tool for spatial information assessment, conveying complex information in a readily understood manner.


The Multi-Criteria Analysis Shell for Spatial Decision Support (MCAS-S) is a software tool developed by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences that brings the multi-criteria analysis (MCA) process into the decision-makers' realm. It is an easy-to-use, flexible tool that promotes:

  • insightful desktop combination and study of different types of mapped information
  • understanding of the relationships between the decision-making process and the available spatial data
  • interactive 'live-update' and mapping of alternative scenarios

GIS (geographic information systems) programming is not required, removing the usual technical obstacles to non-GIS users.

Who can use MCAS-S?

Managers, policy-makers and land management researchers at the national, state and local level involved in land resource evaluation and decision-making will find MCAS-S a helpful tool, particularly those working with spatial data with limited GIS support.

MCAS-S can assist in participatory processes and workshop situations where a clear understanding of varying approaches to spatial data management and information arrangement is necessary. Stakeholders can see the potential impacts that their decisions may make.

What has it been used for?

MCAS-S is the latest of several MCA decision aids used in the Australian Government Department of Agriculture policy environment since the early 1990s. MCAS-S is currently being used at the national, regional and catchment scale for:

  • Wind erosion extent and risk assessment 2009
  • Soil acidification risk assessment 2010
  • Soil carbon potential evaluation 2009
  • Targeting investment - Great Barrier Reef water quality 2009/10
  • Indicators of community vulnerability and adaptive capacity 2010
  • Rabies risk mapping 2011
  • Weeds risk assessment 2011
  • Asian honey bee risk assessment 2009
  • Animal disease risk mapping 2011
  • Re-vegetation planning 2006
  • Land acquisition priorities for conservation 2010
  • City green belt assessment 2009
  • Catchment re-vegetation planning 2011
  • Priorities for regional natural resources investment 2011
  • Wildfire assessment (soil erosion) 2011
  • Agricultural land quality evaluation 2011

Ready to use Australian map layers

Australian national map layers relevant to natural resources evaluation are available for use with MCAS-S. These map layers include climate, soil, vegetation, and economic information.

ABARES would like to acknowledge the input of the MCAS-S development partnership me MBers including Barry Consulting, New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, the National Environmental Research Plan Landscapes and Policy Hub, and the Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program. Funding for version3.1 was provided by the National Environmental Research Plan Landscapes and Policy Hub University of Tasmania.


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