BUTORSTAR: A role-playing game for collective awareness of wise reedbed use
A role-playing game (RPG) supported by computer simulations, called BUTORSTAR, has been developed in the context of a LIFE-Nature European Programme (2001-2005) aiming to improve reedbed management for the conservation of a vulnerable heron, the Eurasian Bittern. The agent-based model simulates the impacts of reedbed management resulting from decisions made by farmers, reed harvesters, hunters, and naturalists. The model is based on an archetypal wetland made of a virtual landscape. Different water regimes are proposed, each one adapted to a particular wetland use. Land-use and water-management decisions are made by the players at both estate and management-unit levels. These decisions are entered into the model each year as the results of the negotiation process between the players. This RPG is designed to promote student awareness of (a) biological and hydrological interdependencies and their dynamics on different spatial and temporal scales, (b) the technical and socioeconomic factors involved in the different types of reedbed use, and (c) the usefulness of the negotiation process for establishing collective management rules. It is shown that BUTORSTAR creates a continuum of learning that crosses the traditional boundaries between disciplines and allows players to conduct multipurpose experiments that contribute to their comprehensive understanding of socioecosystems.