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Volume 1 (2001), Pages 892-897
Research Article

Issues in System Boundary Definition for Substance Flow Analysis: The Case of Nitrogen Cycle Management in Catalonia

Universitat de Girona, Institut de Medi Ambient, Spain

Academic Editor: Joe Wisniewski

Copyright © 2001 Jordi Bartrola et al.


The great complexity of the nitrogen cycle, including anthropogenic contributions, makes it necessary to carry out local studies, which allow us to identify the specific cause-effect links in a particular society. Models of local societies that are based on methods such as Substance Flow Analysis (SFA), which study and characterise the performance of metabolic exchanges between human society and the environment, are a useful tools for directing local policy towards sustainable management of the nitrogen cycle. In this paper, the selection of geographical boundaries for SFA application is discussed. Data availability and accuracy, and the possibility of linking the results with instructions for decision making, are critical aspects for proper scale selection. The experience obtained in the construction of the model for Catalonia is used to draw attention to the difficulties found in regional studies.