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Forskningsartikel2023Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

Handling uncertainties in forest information: the hierarchical forest planning process and its use of information at large forest companies

Ulvdal, Patrik; Öhman, Karin; Eriksson, Ola; Staal Wästerlund, Dianne; Lämås, Tomas


This qualitative study aimed to map what information is used in the forest planning process at large forest-owning companies, how it is used, its level of uncertainty and currently employed strategies to handle forest information uncertainty. An additional aim was to assess the status of the paradigm of the forest planning hierarchy in forestry. We used data from semi-structured interviews with representatives of six large forest-owning companies in Sweden, representing 30 per cent of the productive forest land in the country. Our results show that the forest planning process is a hierarchical system of decisions where the information used in the different planning stages is of varying quality and that the traditional hierarchical planning paradigm still plays a vital role in forestry. The most central source of information in the whole forest-planning process is the forest stand database (forest inventory). This includes uncertain information from various sources, including subjective field measurements and aerial image interpretation. However, the use of remote sensing estimates to feed the databases is increasing, which will probably improve the overall quality. Another important finding is that forest companies tend not to use decision support systems or optimization models to solve planning problems outside the scope of strategic planning; thus, most planning is done manually, e.g. in a geographic information system (GIS) environment. Apart from the hierarchical division of the planning process itself, we identified six main strategies that the companies use to control information uncertainty, namely locking the future by making a decision, utilizing a surplus of available harvests, updating information before a decision is made, replanning when the plan is found to be infeasible, planning by looking back and ignoring the uncertainty, either intentionally or unintentionally. The results from this study increase our understanding of contemporary forest-planning practices and will be helpful in the development of decision support systems and methods for information collection.

Publicerad i

Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research
2023, Volym: 96, nummer: 1, sidor: 62–75