Determining preferred forest management plans under ecosystem driver uncertainty: A conceptual framework

Tony Prato


Forest managers desiring to maintain the long–term sustainability of forests face the important and challenging task of developing forest management plans that account for uncertainty about future changes in ecosystem drivers (i.e., driver uncertainty). The conceptual framework proposed here is important because forest managers can use it to achieve this task. The framework has seven analytical components: (1) selecting ecosystem services and management objectives; (2) choosing management plans; (3) specifying ecosystem drivers and scenarios for future changes in drivers; (4) evaluating management objectives achieved by management plans; (5) identifying the weak or strong sustainability of management plans; (6) using a fuzzy decision–making technique to determine preferred sustainable management plans for driver scenarios; and (7) using the minimax regret criterion to identify preferred sustainable management plans across planning periods. Noteworthy contributions of the framework are that it: (1) incorporates multiple management plans, ecosystem drivers, management objectives, and planning periods; (2) accounts for uncertainty about future changes in ecosystem drivers; (3) characterizes and evaluates management plans in terms of multiple objectives; (4) accommodates single– or multi–valued objectives; and (5) handles quantitative and qualitative management objectives. Implementation of certain analytical components of the framework, particularly quantitative or qualitative evaluation of the effects of forest ecosystem drivers on the objectives achieved by management plans, would most likely require assistance from professionals with expertise in that area.

Keywords - Sustainable forest management planning, uncertainty, multiple ecosystem drivers

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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