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A Multicriteria Risk Analysis to Evaluate Impacts of Forest Management Alternatives on Forest Health in Europe

Hervé Jactel, INRA, UMR 1202, Biodiversity, Genes and Communities, Laboratory of Forest Entomology and Biodiversity
Manuela Branco, Centro de Estudos Florestais, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa
Philipp Duncker, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Institute for Forest Growth
Barry Gardiner, Forest Research, Northern Research Station
Wojciech Grodzki, Forest Research Institute, Department of Forest Management in Mountain Regions
Bo Langstrom, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Francisco Moreira, Centro de Ecologia Aplicada “Prof. Baeta Neves”, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa
Sigrid Netherer, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, Institute of Forest Entomology, Forest Pathology, and Forest Protection
Bruce Nicoll, Forest Research, Northern Research Station
Christophe Orazio, IEFC - EFI Atlantic
Dominique Piou, Département de la Santé des Forêts, Ministère de l'Agriculture et de la Pêche
Mart-Jan Schelhaas, Centre for Ecosystem Studies, Alterra
Karl Tojic, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Institute for Forest Growth


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Due to climate change, forests are likely to face new hazards, which may require adaptation of our existing silvicultural practices. However, it is difficult to imagine a forest management approach that can simultaneously minimize all risks of damage. Multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) has been developed to help decision makers choose between actions that require reaching a compromise among criteria of different weights. We adapted this method and produced a multicriteria risk analysis (MCRA) to compare the risk of damage associated with various forest management systems with a range of management intensity.

The objective was to evaluate the effect of four forest management alternatives (FMAs) (i.e., close to nature, extensive management with combined objectives, intensive even-aged plantations, and short-rotation forestry for biomass production) on biotic and abiotic risks of damage in eight regional case studies combining three forest biomes (Boreal, Continental, Atlantic) and five tree species (Eucalyptus globulus, Pinus pinaster, Pinus sylvestris, Picea sitchensis, and Picea abies) relevant to wood production in Europe. Specific forest susceptibility to a series of abiotic (wind, fire, and snow) and biotic (insect pests, pathogenic fungi, and mammal herbivores) hazards were defined by expert panels and subsequently weighted by corresponding likelihood. The PROMETHEE ranking method was applied to rank the FMAs from the most to the least at risk.

Overall, risk was lower in short-rotation forests designed to produce wood biomass, because of the reduced stand susceptibility to the most damaging hazards. At the opposite end of the management intensity gradient, close-to-nature systems also had low overall risk, due to lower stand value exposed to damage. Intensive even-aged forestry appeared to be subject to the greatest risk, irrespective of tree species and bioclimatic zone. These results seem to be robust as no significant differences in relative ranking of the four FMAs were detected between the combinations of forest biomes and tree species.

Key words

abiotic; biotic; damage; hazard; MCRA; silviculture

Copyright © 2012 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087