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Review article

Multiple Criteria Decision Making in Forestry – Methods and Experiences

Mario Šporčić ; Šumarski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu
Matija Landekić ; Šumarski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu
Marko Lovrić ; Šumarski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu
Saša Bogdan ; Šumarski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu
Ksenija Šegotić ; Šumarski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu

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Planning and decision making in forestry is characterized with a high degree of complexity due to multiple goals of forest management. The principle of the sustainable development is incorporated in management and utilization of forests and forest land in a way that adheres to biological di versity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and potential of the forest to fulfill, now and in the future, its important economical, ecological and so cial functions. All of the above complicates the performing of daily forestry operations, while managers are conditioned to perform constant analyzes of all relevant management indicators. The emphasis in these analyzes is put on standardized natural and financial indicators of production and management. In this highly dynamical period for the management of natural resources fore stry experts need models in which different accounting and financial data is transformed into easily usable information. In such circumstances methods and techniques that can contribute to more reliable planning and to more ob­jective decision making are of great importance, as are the models of objective analysis and management result-scoring methods.
This paper provides an overview of models which take into consideration simultaneously several criteria, so that they can provide more comprehensive measures of management, and to serve as a background for planning and de cision making. Several methods of multiple-criteria decision making has been described and compared. Brief description and comparison presented in the paper includes following multi-criteria methods: data envelopment analysis (DEA), analytic hierarchy process (AHP), simple multi-attribute rating tech nique (SMART), outranking methods, voting methods and stochastic multicri teria analysis (SMAA). The goal is to explain for which types of tasks and problems these methods can be applied in the field of forestry. That provides an insight into characteristics of the respective methods and a guideline to eventual choice of which method to apply. A valuable contribution on the role and significance of the multiple-criteria decision making models in forestry is provided through cited papers, and specially through concrete example of the application of such models through the research performed within “Hrvatske šume” Ltd. Zagreb. In this research the efficiency of organizational units in the Croatian forestry is evaluated by applying DEA. The results of relative ef ficiency are based on calculation of output oriented CCR and BCC models. Frequency of efficient units in reference set of inefficient units is given. The sources and values of inefficiencies are established and the impact of structu ral characteristics on relative efficiency of forest offices is shown. Forest offi ces are also grouped by Forest Administrations and regions they belong to.
In the selection and application of multiple-criteria decision making met hods a special attention must be paid to the quality and availability of infor mation which are needed for the analysis and grading of alternatives, according to the set criteria. An appropriate method must be chosen in a way in which all the data available with the reasonable amount of effort and dedi cation could be utilised as fully as possible. It is also good to apply models which decision makers and other stakeholders can understand, and whose re sults and calculations they can easily illustrate and interpret. However, prac tical multiple-criteria decision making applications are usually too “technical”, so real cases and situations are either over-simplified, or they are too complex for application, comprehension and interpretation. In such conditions their application in decision making and management often needs special knowledge and/or help of trained experts. At the same time, the diffe rences in the types of individuals involved in the process of planning and deci sion making has to be also taken into consideration. People differ between each other in knowledge and skills, and they are differently prepared do parti cipate in analyzes and decision making. Recent studies demonstrate to the usage of hybrid methods, or to the usage of several models and techniques si multaneously. Interactive application of several methods contributes to the ef ficiency of the analyzes, that is to the objectivity and to the reliability of estimates, but also to learning and raising capacities.
In forestry, planning and decision making is often based on more or less in complete information, missing information, or sometimes on purely descrip tive information. In that way the process of forest management is tackled with much of insecurity, incertitude and risk, which does not allow precise estima tes and planning. In that context the methods of multiple-criteria decision ma king, such as AHP and SMAA, have potential for the wider acceptance in forestry and natural resource management. Multiple-criteria models cannot replace traditional tools and procedures in forest planning; on the contrary, they should be complementary. In that sense, the numerical simulations and optimizations are important for the estimation of future production abilities and decision making related to production planning, although they may not be able to enlist all the relative problems of multi-functional forest management. In that cases their estimations and results, as any other information sources (such as GIS, expert judgments, subjective preferences of descriptive data) can be used within a common framework with the methods of multiple-criteria decision making.
In the last few years, the research and the application of multiple-criteria decision making models has been widely represented in many areas, and espe cially in the management of natural resources. Additionally, besides scientists and researchers these methods have gained interest of experts and practitio ners. In forestry they are applied with an intention of better responding to cur rent challenges in forest management. The complexity of business environment, the imperative of ecological acceptability and business success with simultaneous sustainable management of forests creates a demand for new and more precise models and techniques in forestry. Through develop ment and application of analysis which encompasses different models of mul tiple-criteria decision making it is possible to contribute to more simplified analysis, planning and foreseeing in forest management. Generally, it is con sidered that multiple-criteria decision making models in forestry, as in other business systems, can be very strong support to planning and decision ma king.


AHP, DEA, forest manage ment, forestry, Multiple criteria decision making

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