Metsähallitus’ multi-objective decision-making showcased at an international science conference
The landscape ecological planning of Metsähallitus and the social choice theory employed in it were showcased in a number of connections at the International Conference on Multiple Criteria Decision Making (MCDM2011) taking place in Jyväskylä. Multiple criteria methods help planners and decision-makers to take into account different objectives that often are conflicting and incommensurable and to seek compromises that are justified in terms of the whole.
Director General Jyrki Kangas, who addressed the conference as a guest of honour, said that the methods employed by Metsähallitus are top of the range globally.
- Reconciliations sought through multiple criteria methods are vital for Metsähallitus, Kangas said. Our task is to optimise the use of state land and water property and produce maximum benefits for society. We rely on these methods when working out logging plans, evaluating alternative protection sites by means of ecological decision analysis and establishing stakeholder views in landscape ecological planning.
The aim of landscape ecological planning is to reconcile the opportunities offered by natural resources and the expectations placed on them by various parties into a functional whole. The interactive operating method of Metsähallitus offers stakeholders and citizens a possibility of taking part in planning.
The theme of the conference is becoming increasingly important. Reconciling different objectives is commonplace in natural resources use, energy production and health care alike, and according to Kangas, conference participants were interested in Metsähallitus’ experiences.
- We offer a 12-million hectare field laboratory for this growing branch of science. When we apply its methods in our practical work, for example a participatory approach to involving citizens and stakeholders, we also provide valuable information to the scientific community on the applicability of decision support methods and needs to develop them further.
- In participatory involvement of citizens, for example, it is worth ensuring that the various options are clear and practical, even if the end solution in other respect were not be as perfect as you might wish. Citizens appreciate clear and comprehensible decision-making, and this indeed is one of the hallmarks of a successful planning process.
The conference is now being held for the 21st time, and it brings together more than 300 scientists from 40 countries. In addition to the paper given by Jyrki Kangas, other speakers also helped to introduce Metsähallitus to the conference participants by other speakers. Regional Manager Veikko Hiltunen talked about the use of social choice theory in landscape ecological planning, a subject also discussed by Professor of Forest Planning Mikko Kurttila from the Finnish Forest Research Institute in his paper. According to Kangas, Metsähallitus' experiences of the social choice theory in particular attracted international interest in the conference.
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