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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2010

Integrating multiple criteria decision analysis in participatory forest planning: Experience from a case study in northern Sweden

Nordström, Eva-Maria; Eriksson Ljusk, Ola; Öhman, Karin


Forest planning in a participatory context often involves multiple stakeholders with conflicting interests. A promising approach for handling these complex situations is to integrate participatory planning and multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA). The objective of this paper is to analyze strengths and weaknesses of such an integrated approach, focusing on how the use of MCDA has influenced the participatory process. The paper outlines a model for a participatory MCDA process with five steps: stakeholder analysis, structuring of the decision problem, generation of alternatives, elicitation of preferences, and ranking of alternatives. This model was applied in a case study of a planning process for the urban forest in Lycksele, Sweden. In interviews with stakeholders, criteria for four different social groups were identified. Stakeholders also identified specific areas important to them and explained what activities the areas were used for and the forest management they wished for there. Existing forest data were combined with information from interviews to create a map in which the urban forest was divided into zones of different management classes. Three alternative strategic forest plans were produced based on the zonal map. The stakeholders stated their preferences individually by the Analytic Hierarchy Process in inquiry forms and a ranking of alternatives and consistency ratios were determined for each stakeholder. Rankings of alternatives were aggregated; first, for each social group using the arithmetic mean, and then an overall aggregated ranking was calculated from the group rankings using the weighted arithmetic mean. The participatory MCDA process in Lycksele is assessed against five social goals: incorporating public values into decisions, improving the substantive quality of decisions, resolving conflict among competing interests, building trust in institutions, and educating and informing the public. The results and assessment of the case study support the integration of participatory planning and MCDA as a viable option for handling complex forest-management situations. Key issues related to the MCDA methodology that need to be explored further were identified: 1) the handling of place-specific criteria, 2) development of alternatives, 3) the aggregation of individual preferences into a common preference, and 4) application and evaluation of the integrated approach in real case studies. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Analytic Hierarchy Process; Decision support; Forest-management planning; Public participation; Stakeholders

Published in

Forest Policy and Economics
2010, volume: 12, number: 8, pages: 562-574

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management
Eriksson Ljusk, Ola (Eriksson, Ola)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

UKÄ Subject classification

Social Sciences
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Forest Science
Economics and Business

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