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Potential of an outranking multi-criteria approach to support the participatory assessment of land management actions
- Ocampo-Melgar, Anahí, Bautista, Susana, Edward deSteiguer, J., Orr, Barron J.
- Journal of environmental management 2017 v.195 pp. 70-77
- arid lands, brush control, environmental assessment, grasses, hydraulic structures, land management, livestock, multi-criteria decision making, rotational grazing, sowing, stakeholders, vegetation, watersheds, Arizona
- We evaluated the potential of an outranking Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis approach for assisting in the participatory assessment of dryland management actions implemented in the San Simon watershed, in southeastern Arizona, USA. We compared an outranking-facilitated assessment of actions with a simple and direct (baseline) ranking of the same actions by the participating stakeholders in terms of: 1) internal homogeneity of each assessment approach, (2) similarity of individual assessments between methods, and (3) effects of the use of implicit/explicit assessment criteria. The actions assessed combined various management approaches, including livestock management (rotation, resting), vegetation management (grass seeding, brush control), and hydraulic structures (dams, dykes). The outranking-facilitated assessment discriminated better between actions and reduced the variability of results between individual stakeholders as compared with the direct ranking of actions. In general, the two assessments significantly differed in the relative preference of the five management actions assessed, yet both assessments identified rotational grazing combined with vegetation management (grass seeding and brush control) as the most preferred management action in the study area. The comparative analysis revealed inconsistencies between the use of implicit and explicit assessment criteria. Our findings highlight the opportunities offered by outranking approaches to help capture, structure, and make explicit stakeholder perspectives in the framework of a participatory environmental assessment process, which may facilitate the understanding of the multiple preferences involved. The outranking integration process, which resembles a voting procedure, proved simple and transparent, with potential for contributing to stakeholder engagement and trust in participatory assessment.