Canadian Forest Service Publications

An approach to GIS-based multiple criteria decision analysis that integrates exploration and evaluation phases: case study in a forest-dominated landscape. 2010. Greene, R.; Luther, J.E.; Devillers, R.; Eddy, B. Forest Ecology and Management 260: 2102-2114.

Year: 2010

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 32023

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free)

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The increasing importance and complexity of land and natural resource management are creating a need for ecosystem-based management (EBM). Multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA) combined with geographic information systems (GIS) can integrate factors related to the triple bottom line of ecological, economic, and social perspectives required by EBM. However, GIS-based MCDA is limited in this role because (i) it rarely integrates or encourages an exploration phase in preparation for structured evaluation and (ii) inexperienced users may find MCDA methods and GIS software difficult to use. This paper presents a novel approach for (i) supporting an exploration phase to help structure a problem and (ii) integrating the exploration and evaluation phases in an easy-to-use software system. The approach was validated through a land-management case study in a forest-dominated landscape with a variety of stakeholders. Case-study participants used the approach to rate areas within a timber harvest plan based on their potential for conflict with conservation values. The case-study decision analysis determined that between 1.3% and 6.6% of the harvest plan area had a conservation rating of 0.30 or higher on a scale of 0-1. The system was made available to the forest industry and other stakeholders to support harvest plan adjustments, demonstrating how such tools can be used to improve and integrate our knowledge of forest ecology and management. Assessment of participant feedback reveals that an exploration phase is effective in helping understand a problem and prepare for multiple criteria evaluation (MCE).