Review of a land use planning programme through the soft systems methodology

Uday Bhaskar Nidumolu*, C. A J M de Bie, Herman van Keulen, Andrew K. Skidmore, Karl Harmsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Traditional land use planning approaches relied significantly on biophysical data and followed a hierarchical top-down approach. The component of primary stakeholders as being critical to the success of implementing such plans is often ignored. In India, a large-scale geo-information project called "integrated mission for sustainable development (IMSD)" was undertaken in aid of land use planning. Biophysical data were generated at regional scale using remote sensing data and conventional survey methods. Land and water management plans have been developed for use by district level land use planning officials. However, it is observed that the acceptance rate of the plans by farmers is below the expectations of the land use planners. To understand the reasons, this paper applies the soft systems methodology to systematically analyse the programme and to suggest modifications in the existing procedures. The FAO guidelines for land use planning have been taken as a reference for evaluating technically the existing IMSD procedures. It is concluded that in the current approach the emphasis is predominantly on biophysical components with a low priority for the socio-economic factors. To increase the acceptance rate of the plans, it is argued that the socio-economic context has to be better integrated in the generation of the plans. Studies set in the IMSD study areas are discussed where an integration of soft and hard systems is attempted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-203
Number of pages17
JournalLand Use Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • IMSD
  • land use planning
  • soft systems methodology


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