Linking forest policy issues and decision support tools in Europe


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While very many decision-support (DS) tools (i.e. models and decision support systems (DSS)) have been developed to address forest management problems in Europe, the use of such tools in supporting forest policy processes remains limited. Additionally, while there has been very limited sharing of these tools between European countries, there may be an untapped potential for both users and developers in this area.

This paper focuses on improving understanding and capacities in the use of forest DS tools for decision making by identifying major forest policy areas, tools available to support them, compatibility of existing tools with the requirements of forest policy areas, potential areas where tools may be shared between countries and factors limiting the use of DS tools in forest policy.

Data collection was based on expert interviews. The questionnaire, which comprised a combination of open- and close-ended questions, was forwarded to experts via email. Expert interviews were completed via Skype with the input of one policy specialist and one modeller/decision support specialist from each country.

This study categorised key forest policy areas and the DS tools available to support them. Almost one third of these forest policy areas were not addressed by any DS tool. The analysis also revealed that DS tools are mainly developed to assist scientists and policy decision makers to address smaller spatial scales, that they are more orientated to single decision makers with a predominant focus on market wood products. In addition, through an attribute-matching exercise, the DS tools that could potentially be used in other countries to support similar forest policy areas were also identified.

Interviews highlighted some of the reasons why DS tools are seldom used in policy making processes; these include a lack of trust in the actual use of the tools as well as a perception of inadequacy for the specifics of real policy process. This research provides a detailed overview of existing DS tools and the forest policy areas that they address. It further provides information on how to address or reduce the gap between DS tools functionalities and requirements from policy makers.

Keywords:

Forest policy area, Forest decision support system, Simulator, Model, Expert interview

 

Reference:

Linkevičiusa, E., Borges, J.G., Doyle, M., Pülzl, H., Nordström, E.M., Vacik, H., Brukas, V., Biber, P., Teder, M., Kaimre, P., Synek, M., Garzia-Gonzalo, J. “Linking forest policy issues and decision support tools in Europe. Forest Policy and Economics https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2018.05.014