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Joining or not joining non-industrial private forests into a single management unit: A case-study shaped as an Analytic Network Process

Dragoi, Marian
Forest policy and economics 2018 v.89 pp. 63-70
Abies alba, Fagus, case studies, coppicing, decision making, forest management, forests, fuelwood, landowners, nonindustrial private forests, ownership, planning, risk, stakeholders, surveys, uncertainty, Romania
The study aims to find out how the management of non-industrial private forests (NIPF) can be improved by a larger and more consistent participation of all important stakeholders involved in making one of the most important decisions the forest management planning system copes with: whether or not the forest planner shall create a separate forest management unit for NIPFs, considering a wider variety of interconnected benefits, costs risks and opportunities.The decision making process was conceived as an Analytic Network Process (ANP) and all important aspects worth being taken into consideration were embodied in four conceptual subnets that gather benefits, opportunities costs and risks defined from three different perspectives: social, economic and ecological. The method was tested on an important decision which is made each ten years when the forest management plans shall be updated. The input data were collected from two small associations of landowners whose forests are managed by Solca forest district (FD), county of Suceava, Romania. The total forest area supposed to be included in the new management unit is about 360ha and the natural type of forest is beech, mixed with silver fir. Two alternatives were taken into account: the business as usual scenario (the same rotation for all stands and the same silvicultural system, irrespective to the ownership type) and a new management unit, explicitly designed for NIPF, where coppice with standards will produce fuelwood and small size round wood for rural construction.An extensive survey was carried out in order to find out the most important criteria worth being taken into account when such a decision shall be made, as well as the landowners' expectations, concerns and uncertainties with respect to the two options: business as usual scenario and a new FMU respectively. A second survey was distributed among the villagers of a neighboring commune in order to appraise the local demand for fuelwood. Based on the information collected at the first hand four subnets referring to benefits, costs, opportunities and risks have been produced and, within each subnet, three different clusters were defined in order to appraise the relative importance of economic, social, and ecologic aspects. Making pairwise comparisons between alternatives against criteria, clusters, and subnets, we have concluded that a new management unit for NIPFs is feasible and desirable. Even though ANP seems to be a very flexible tool for making complex decisions, any potential user shall be aware of some risks pertaining to ANP methodology, especially the tendency to make too complex networks, compelling to pairwise comparisons that make less sense. On the other hand, the case study presented in this article has demonstrated that pairwise comparisons may refer not only to the relative importance of whatever two criteria or alternatives, but also to the likelihood or desirability of some certain processes that might occur in case of pursuing one of the two alternatives taken into consideration. The procedure we have proposed for making or not making a new FMU can be developed or adapted to other situations where a consistent dialogue between the decision makers and the stakeholders is a more than necessary.