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Planning and Decision Making Models in Forestry

Author(s): Mario Šporčić | Matija Landekić | Marko Lovrić | Ivan Martinić

Journal: Croatian Journal of Forest Engineering
ISSN 1845-5719

Volume: 32;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 443;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: forestry | forest management | multiple criteria decision making | MCDM methods | AHP | DEA | Outranking | MAUT | SMAA

Forest resources and related benefits represent an important part of fulfilling the human need for energy, raw materials and quality of life. These potential benefits of forests cover a broad specter of goods and services. Among other things, they include: wood, recreation, water, soil preservation, game, scenic beauty, etc. Many of these benefits and services can be simultaneously gained from forest stands. And still there are many debates on how to manage forests and to what purpose, while many countries have legislation that prescribes forest management and/or protects certain functions of forests, where the basic postulate of forest management is the multifunctional use of forests. In this manner the crucial economical, ecological and social functions of forests are fulfilled. Forest management should enable careful use of forests and forest land in the process of procurement of respective products and services. In that sense, the planning, decisions regarding the use of forests and forest land, specificities of management of respective resources, productivity and stability of forest functions have an important bearing on sustainable and effective management of forests.Planning and management of forest resources represents a very complex task mainly for its multitude and a broad specter of criteria used in the decision making process. That means that any decision making is under different influences, and that any decision made has further influence on various aspects of nature. These influences and criteria include: a) economical issues – wood production, non-wood forest products, game management, hunting; b) ecological and environmental issues – soil erosion, watershed regulation, biodiversity, carbon sink, scenic beauty, influence on climate; c) social issues – recreational activities, tourism, employment, rural development, etc. Moreover, the complexity of a large proportion of forestry issues is increasing due to the way in which interest and social groups and organizations perceive the relative importance of specific criteria and appraise the management of forests, and assess the »goodness« of management of forest resources, accordingly. The importance of specific criteria and evaluation of forest management in that sense depends on personal standpoints and opinions of each individual or group. All of the above daily increases the complexity of forest management, worsening the management conditions and making planning and decision making in forestry very demanding. In such a situation the common application of multi-criteria decision making and different techniques of group decision making are becoming an important and potentially desirable way for solving forestry issues. It is considered that multi-criteria decision models and methods can provide to modern forestry, which has multiple aims and tasks, and a multitude of interest groups with often conflicting interests, a strong and flexible support to decision making. The emphasis is on the fact that the decision proposals and decision statements must be based on rational arguments. Some of the methods that lately have had a broad field of application are Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA).Further to the above, this paper also presents many other methods of multi-criteria decision making; Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT), Outranking methods, voting techniques and Stochastic Multiple-Criteria Acceptability Analysis (SMAA). Their basic features are presented, a short overview of each method is given and the areas of application in the field of forestry are indicated. Special attention is given to the researches that have been conducted in the Croatian forestry in the last few years. The aim was to provide information of the existing experiences, the actual role and significance of multiple-criteria decision making, and its future perspective. Many of the cited papers can be a valuable source of information to students, researchers, experts and forestry practitioners. The results show that in the last thirty years a significant number of papers dealing with multiple-criteria decision making models have been published, contributing to the awareness of forestry experts regarding the potential role of these models that could be applied in many aspects of forestry, such as: logging and forest utilization, biodiversity, sustainable management, regional planning, etc. The number of published papers in specific years also indicates an increasing trend of use of multiple-criteria decision making models in forestry, especially in the last few years. Considering the frequency of multiple-criteria research in the world, the application of such models in the Croatian forestry is still lagging behind. Mostly it involves periodical research focused on evaluation of effectiveness of forest management. These researches, however, point to the justification and possibility of application of multiple-criteria decision making in multifunctional forest management, with the emphases on sustainability of biodiversity, regeneration capacity and sustainable management. This paper also shows how multiple-criteria decision making can be used for analyzing the choice of the best or at least satisfactory decision, and thus contribute to more reliable planning and more objective decision making in forestry.
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