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Research article2013Peer reviewed

Using value functions to elicit spatial preference information

Korosuo, Anu; Holmström, Hampus; Öhman, Karin; Eriksson Ljusk, Ola


Decision making in forest planning often involves situations, where the value of the stand is dependent on its location or the properties of the stands nearby. Often the most intuitive tool to describe spatial objectives and outcomes is a visual map. However, evaluating and comparing different maps may prove a considerable cognitive burden, especially over large areas and in long-term planning. In this study, we investigate the use of value functions for eliciting spatial preference information from maps. Our case study is part of a project investigating the possibilities of increasing broadleaf-tree-dominated habitats in a northern Swedish landscape. The experts involved in the project evaluated maps showing different fragmentation patterns. Different spatial indices were then calculated for the maps, and expert evaluations were used to sketch value functions describing the preferred fragmentation level. The approach was found to be a quick way of translating spatial preferences into numerical values and conceptualizing the relatively abstract concept of fragmentation in the landscape. Furthermore, the results show that the choice of a certain fragmentation index has a crucial effect on the value function.


Expert judgment; Forest planning; Fragmentation index; Map

Published in

European Journal of Forest Research
2013, Volume: 132, number: 3, pages: 551-563
Publisher: SPRINGER