The module has been created within the giCASES project.
Author: Caio Mascarenhas, Pedro Cabral, Marco Painho, Tiago H. Moreira de Oliveira, Alexandre Baptista, NOVA IMS and Carlo Cipolloni ISPRA. The material is provided under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License (

The Natura 2000 network is the largest interconnected area of protected sites in the world and covers almost 20% of European Union (EU) territory. It entails more than 25.000 sites all over the 27 Member States. However, many protected areas consist of private lands where economic activities can have impacts on the conservation of biodiversity and habitats. According to Natura 2000 approach, the protected sites are not “strict nature reserves” and human activities are encouraged to be “managed in a sustainable manner, both ecologically and economically”.

Among the economic activities, agriculture is one that can be combined with measures that aim at the conservation of species and habitats. In addition, this activity is one of the most suitable for areas that fit within the Natura 2000 network. Moreover, “European ecosystems are not only the result of natural processes, they have also been heavily influenced by humans over thousands of years”.

Nevertheless, the rapid progression towards more intensive land uses and the increasing production demand leads to a type of agricultural production that raises concerns about the ecological impacts that it can cause. Monocultures that required heavy application of agrochemicals is the most significant example. Therefore, in this project we intend to develop a replicable GIS workflow to assess the potential risk due to the exposure to agrochemicals products in protected areas of Natura 2000 network. The use of GIS analysis will be addressed to perform an integrated multi-criteria calculation for the assessment of potential risk. The aim is to build a tool capable of generate the risk index, thus to enhance management of agricultural activities, regarding environmental conservancy. The purpose of this tool is to serve as an orientation in the definition of measures to reduce the risk related to the application of agrochemicals in areas of environmental protection. From the generated results, it will be possible identify areas which are under greater risk and thus establish priority measures of action and control.

The model of analyses has been pre-defined and based on the PRA.MS method. In this method, a score is assigned for each informational layer in order to obtain a weighted risk index. In the model, three main component are evaluated and classified:

  • Source (S) representing agrochemical products, agricultural area and habitat exposed;
  • Compartments and means of exposure (C) representing water, soil, air, and food chain (and the means of exposure: drift, volatization, leaching, runoff, direct contact);
  • Receptor (R) representing the number of habitats and species and their degree of sensibility / vulnerability.

To design the model it will be necessary to identify which data is available in a certain area, which are the format of those and which are the geoprocessing tools appropriate to assign the variables parameterisation according to the PRA.MS method.


The case study 2, entitled Environmental analysis using cloud service system - Multi-criteria assessment to evaluate potential risk due to exposure to agrochemical products in Natura 2000 areas is structured and organized through these topics:

  • Introduction to system analysis that gives the basis for conceptualizing and designing models of real processes;
  • Logical models, or rule-based models;
  • Dynamic models that integrate time;
  • Agent-based and cellular automata models;
  • Models for studying ecosystem services in which the giCASES Project CS, Environmental analysis using cloud service system - Multi-criteria assessment to evaluate potential risk due to exposure to agrochemical products in Natura 2000 areas - will be implemented.

One of the discussed case studies of this course will mandatorily be the giCASES Project CS, Environmental analysis using cloud service system - Multi-criteria assessment to evaluate potential risk due to exposure to agrochemical products in Natura 2000 areas. This course is comprised of the following deliverables:

  • e-Book “Risk Index Models”;
  • Tutorial “Procedures to calculate the Risk Index”;
  • Exercise “GIS Modelling”;
  • Web application, available here ;
  • Supporting data.
Learning outcomes

After the training, the participants will be able to apply the scientific knowledge given by research activities to a more practical assessment of potential environmental hazard that could be useful to both public authorities or environmental consultants.

These participants will gain a new professional set of skills and expertise that integrate on one side the GIS competences of Analyst staff (at universities) using more web-GIS tool and at the other side the improvement of the capacity of the Environmental expert (usually in public authorities such as environmental agencies) to set-up data and perform analysis in a new type of platform, starting to increase hazard analysis.

This tradecraft benefits both the Universities and the Industry, since GI-Technicians will adapt their skills to new real environments and setting. This case study also represents a good example of integration of assessment of spatial data by open source and Web GIS applications and environmental information.

Intended Audience

Students in geospatial information technologies (or similar), professionals working in the utility network sector.


No specific pre-requisites are required for this module but basic knowledge about Geographic Information Systems (GIS).


GIS Modeling and GIS & Science PDF ebooks/documents, tutorials presentations (.ppt), Web seminars with software demonstrations. A Master Thesis as a .pdf file and its discussion support material (as a .ppt).

The produced Datasets will also be delivered on the following formats, shapefile and Web Mapping Services (WMS).

Expected workload
15 days.