Decision support systems

Decision support systems (DSS) have proven to be highly suitable for the integration of the information, models and methods required to support decision making in complex forest management problems. ARANGE will produce a web-based decision support tool box specifically aiming at mountain forest management for multiple ecosystem services (ES). It will combine individual tools under a generic functional and technical software framework. This design will grant flexibility in adapting the tool box to specific cases and to enhance tool box functionalities beyond the lifetime of the project. Major parts of DSS architecture and supporting functionalities will build on recent experiences within other EU projects (e.g. EFORWOOD, MOTIVE and FunDivEUROPE) and combine model and data driven decision support approaches. The ToolBox will be populated with novel planning and assessment tools including optimization and multi-criteria decision making methods developed within ARANGE. The graphical user interface of the tool box will be available in several language versions where the focus will be on those languages used in the evaluation and demonstration case studies.

The DSToolBox will adhere to a generic decision analysis approach and guide the user through a planning and decision making process consisting of four main steps:

  • assessing a given forest with regard to a profile of demanded ES
  • defining a finite number of forest management alternatives either directly available from the ARANGE knowledge base, as defined by the user with the management scenario writer, or as a result of an optimization procedure
  • estimating the ES outcomes of the decision alternatives
  • evaluating and comparing the alternatives with regard to a set of indicators

representing the desired ES either in unilateral or group decision making environments. Additionally, prefabricated queries will provide quick and easy access to the ARANGE knowledge base.

In implementing the DSToolBox, the focus will be on solutions that avoid licensing costs as well as intensive software installation in order to limit technical barriers for potential users. Since the full functionality of it will very likely be too complex for a full web-based IT solution, we will aim at a hybrid approach where the user can decide to which level of complexity the ToolBox ought to support the planning process. More complex analysis and planning procedures, particularly model driven components, will be executed at the client side (i.e. the user downloads the tool chain to be used from the world wide web and runs the analysis on his/her desktop computer) and will allow for a maximum of control and feedback by the user. Data driven planning tools will be available via the web.

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