Introduction: Yazd-Ardakan plain consists of political, economic, social, and ecological systems. It has valuable agricultural products, cultural background, various industries of steel, tile, glass, textile, lime kiln, asphalt, brick, and sand production industries as well as metal and non-metal mines. On the other hand, the existence of vast intact deserts and natural areas and habitats make this plane an important place in Iran. Variety of industries alongside water scarcity, drought, population growth, and lack of integrated planning has caused environmental pollution. Therefore, it is essential to comprehensively study the factors affecting different ecosystems services in this plain.
Material and methods: The DPSIR framework with a systems approach was used as a useful tool for formulating executive and managerial strategies. Applying DPSIR could finally result in identifying practical solutions for sustainable development by determining the response to the driving forces and structuring the information, determining the important connections, and comprehensive understanding of the problems. In the present study, the DPSIR system approach was used to evaluate the causal relationships of the environmental challenges of the Yazd-Ardakan plain in different sectors. To this end, information collection was done based on a detailed study of official documents, literature review, interview with experts, field surveys, and analysis of satellite imageries. This framework was also used to evaluate the vulnerability and to suggest the planning strategies. From this, a chain of causal connections of driving forces and the consecutive pressures on the environment were identified. Considering pressure and changes happened to the environment and upon the information analysis, short- and long-term appropriate strategies to sustainable use of ecological, hydrological, economic, and social services of the plain were suggested to the policymaker.
Results and discussion: By examining causal relationships and responses, a chain of causal processes was identified that began with the driving force and led to the pressure on the environment. The results showed that the threats of the plain were divided into five groups of pollution resources, land-use change, socio-political problems and climate change, and drought. Based on the assessment of the environmental values vulnerability, industry, agriculture, clean air, groundwater resources and the physical and mental health of the people were the most important values in the region that were at high risk. Urban, industrial, and agricultural pollutants, soil erosion, increasing industries and mines, agricultural development, inappropriate policies, and climate change were threats that had a severe impact on clean air. Another noteworthy point is that industry mining and agriculture, as the cause of many environmental problems in the region, have themselves been damaged by the effects of their feedbacks. In fact, in the study area, groundwater pollution caused by agricultural pesticides is dangerous and makes water unusable for drinking, agriculture, and industry. This highlights the importance of "sustainable development" rather than "development". Therefore, according to the achieved priority in formulating plans and strategies, reviving qanats and promoting the culture of using this water supply system instead of digging wells, developing cultivation patterns, eliminating water-intensive products, and reforming industries are among the most important aspects that should be addressed.
Conclusion: Examining the reasons and providing solutions for environmental crises in areas such as Yazd-Ardakan plain has not been effective as they only applied traditional and common methods based on non-systemic perspectives. To achieve sustainable development and face the complexity and multiplicity of factors in the occurrence of those problems, it is recommended to use a holistic approach and tools such as DPSIR. It will lead to better finding the roots of the problems and offering appropriate policy strategies.