Experiences on applying MCDM tools in natural resources

Experiences on applying MCDM tools
in natural resources management
The 21st International Conference on
Multiple Criteria Decision Making
Jyväskylä, 14 June 2011
Jyrki Kangas, Metsähallitus
Natural resource planning at Metsähallitus
MCDM methods applied in natural resource planning
Experiencies on MCDM methods
Metsähallitus is a state-owned
enterprise that runs business
activities while also fulfilling many
public services and also some
administration duties
Manages practically taken all the
state-owned lands and waters
Provides natural resources sector
services to a diverse customer base,
from private individuals to major
Operations are based on the
knowledgeable and co-operative
use of state land and water areas
Lands and waters
managed by Metsähallitus
Forest land in multiple-use forests, 3.6 million ha
Poorly productive and non-productive land, 1.5
million ha (non-protected)
Protected areas, wilderness reserves and other
areas, 4.0 million ha
Water areas, 3.4 million ha
Public water areas
In total 12.5 million ha = 1/3 of the country
We serve the Finnish society
Areas of different administrative status, with different natural
conditions, and with different objectives are managed as one
Metsähallitus strives at managing these areas in a way that benefits
Finnish society to the greatest extent possible
Our tasks can be organised into three categories: natural heritage
services (costs 54 MEUR, mainly from the state budget), business
operations (turnover 367 MEUR, profit 114 MEUR), and considering
ecological, social and cultural benefits in business operations
(decreases the profit by about 50 MEUR)
To ensure balanced and sustainable use of the resources,
Metsähallitus uses modern planning systems and state-of-the-art
information systems
A key tool in that is Participatory Natural Resource Planning
Comprehensive planning systems for multiobjective natural resources management
Up-to-date information on natural
Data on approx. 1.5 million forest
and other compartments
(measurement units) in the GIS
Site-specific operational
Planning of management
and use at special sites
ecological analysis
Regional natural
Natural resource planning
7 natural resource plans cover all the areas
Participatory planning processes; open interaction using regional
co-operation groups, local meetings and other public
participation techniques and channels
Sum of natural resource plans should fulfil the overall aims
determined by the owner, i.e. the state, via democratic system
Multiple criteria and multiple stakeholders are involved in all natural
resource planning processes
The plans are based on the use of simulation, analysis, optimisation
and decision-support methods
Results include: land-use guidelines, timber cutting and forestry plan,
biodiversity conservation program, choice of areas where
recreation and tourism are specially promoted as well as those for
reindeer husbandry (=> profit & decrease of it!)
7. Implementation
and follow-up
6. Elaborating a program for
putting the plan into practice
5. Comparison and choice
• Comparing alternative plans
• Decision-support calculations
• Negotiating on the choice
• Choosing one plan as the basis
4. Producing and analysing
alternative plans
• Analysing the production possibilities
• Generating alternative plans
• Analysing the alternatives
1. Analysis of the present situation
• Natural resources
• Operating environments
• Success of the previous plan
2. Analysis of objectives
• Aims and restrictions by the owner
• Demand from the markets
• Expectations and wishes of
stakeholders and the public
3. Data aquisition
• Analysing the available data
• Gathering additional data needed
MCDM methods applied already in the
previous century
– First efforts in 1991
– First application to participatory planning in 1992-1993
”Interactive Utility Analysis (IUA)”
– Combination of AHP and SMART (Value Tree analysis)
– Only tested, not gained real practical application
More recently applied MCDM methods
Multicriteria Approval (MA)
Multicriteria Approval Voting (MAV)
– An elaboration of MA, MESTA software
– MAV + IUA (ordinal + cardinal)
Traditional voting techniques, e.g. cumulative voting and borda count
SMAA methods
– Under consideration just now, not yet applied in practice
System intelligence in approaching and structuring the choice
problem, and in analysing the success of the current plan and finetuning it
Experiences on using MCDM methods in
practical planning processes
Different methods often give different results in the same choice
problem; these may be due to:
– differencies in preference estimation processes, in choice
problem formulations, in calculation procedures
– ability to make full use of different kinds of data
Normally, this is not so serious since e.g.
– information is always more or less incomplete
– each method can give some additional decision aid
– differences in results make people involved think harder
– differencies in results help to learn about methods applied and
on how their results should be interpreted
– differencies in results make people understand the uncertainty
involved in any planning calculation
There is room for a variety of methods
There is no universally the best method or methods; no method is
always suitable but all methods may have their applications in
natural resource management
The MCDM methods should be chosen in line with the decision
problem, e.g., so that all the information available can be utilised
and people can provide the preference information required
It normally makes sense to invest in acquiring as high-quality data
as possible (on preferences, and priorities of alternatives); and to
use corresponding methods
However, we often have to content with low-quality information;
then methods developed for dealing with that kind of information
are worth applying
Behavioral aspects are important,
especially in participatory processes
Required inquiries should not be too difficult
– e.g. if it is hard for stakeholders to express cardinal
importance for the criteria, forcing them to answer
corresponging inquiries might lead to biased results
Many people more easily accept a satisfactory solution the
rationale of which they can understand than results of
optimisation that is too complex for them
Easiness to use and understand especially important in group
decision support and participatory approaches
– Fascilitators, visualisation, etc needed to interpret
calculations, alternatives, results
A problem: applying an easy, simple method might lead to
underutilisation of the available information
Applying MCDM may really provide education and learning
Integrated use of MCDM methods may
strengthen planning processes
Applying more than just one MCDM method as complementary
tools in a planning process often useful (especially from the
learning point of view)
Easy & more difficult; qualitative & quantitative; ordinal & cardinal
– e.g. MA & IUA (or SMAA); applying first an easier one gives a
sound basis for performing deeper analyses; both in
behavioral and technical sense
Familiar & new
– e.g. A’WOT = SWOT + AHP; ”new” method (AHP) easy to
introduce in a familiar framework (SWOT)
Sometimes we really need to apply
After all, it is often more important how the method is applied than
which method is applied
Interactivity is a precondition of the effectiveness of most decision
support processes (with any method)
Methods should sometimes be fine-tuned for practical tasks; even
some violence against the very fundamentals of the methods
and theories…
Valuable feedback for method development work can be gained
via practical applications => less violence will be needed in the
Final remarks
Metsähallitus is proud to announce that it has been, is, and will be in
the forefront of practical MCDM application (at least in the field of
natural resources management)
Experiences in using MCDM methods in natural resource planning at
Metsähallitus have been good
 Applying MCDM may really provide education and learning
 We will continue making use of them
 We are interested in still developing the methods and their
applications, especially for participatory processes
At the moment, methods based on social choice theory for
participatory phases and more versatile MCDM methods for
deeper calculations by experts are of special interest
In order to enhance the development of MCDM applications, cooperation of method developers, application builders and
practitioners is called for
Etunimi Sukunimi
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