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Report, 2007

Participatory forest planning and multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA)

Nordström, Eva-Maria; Eriksson, Ljusk Ola


With the industrial revolution, the human utilization of the forest took a new turn as wood became a commercial product (Östlund & Zackrisson 2000). Since then, economical considerations have pervaded the public perspective on forest and forestry. However, the awareness of the need for sustainability in the use of the forest resource has also grown, and during the last decades other values have entered the discussion and the practice of forestry. Today, sustainable forest management (SFM) where economical, ecological and social values are all satisfied, is a core element in the development of acceptable forest management practices. Public participation is strongly related to SFM. In some industrialized countries, e.g. Canada, demands for participation in natural resource management have subsequently been incorporated into the legislation (Chambers and Beckley 2003), but in most countries there is no legal demand for participation. In Sweden for example, the only demand for participation in the Forestry Act is consultation before clear cutting in certain areas of reindeer herding. Forest certification, which is now covering extensive areas in several countries, plays an interesting role in the promotion of SFM. However, its main purpose is not public participation and the integration of social values into forestry (Angelstam et al. 2004). Internationally, there is the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. This convention has been ratified by Sweden amongst other countries, but it is difficult to make a strict interpretation of it. New approaches and methods are obviously needed in forest management planning to incorporate forest values other than timber production and to help solve conflicts of interest. There have been some attempts made by different types of projects. The Canadian Model Forest concept promotes participation in the work for SFM, and has been tried out in Sweden in the Vilhelmina Model Forest project (Svensson et al. 2004). Some of the LIFE projects sponsored by the European Union are also applications of participation with SFM as the objective; the project “Local Participation in Sustainable Forest Management based on Landscape Analysis” is a Swedish example of a LIFE project sponsored by the European Union (, 2007-01-12). A potentially powerful tool in the work for sustainable forest management (SFM) and participation is multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA), an approach which can make it possible to handle complex decision situations involving conflicting interests and several stakeholders. The purpose of this paper is to clarify concepts related to participation and present methods that are applicable in participatory planning. More specifically the following questions will be dealt with: • What is meant by participation? What methods and techniques are available to participatory planning processes? • What is MCDA and what phases do this approach require? In order to illuminate the state of art of participatory planning in forestry, an analysis of a number of case studies is presented.


Forest Planning; MCDA

Published in

Arbetsrapport / Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för skoglig resurshushållning
Publisher: Instutionen för skoglig resurshushållning, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

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