Current issue: 56(2)
The paper examines the needs, premises and criteria for effective public participation in tactical forest planning. A method for participatory forest planning utilizing the techniques of preference analysis, professional expertise and heuristic optimization is introduced. The techniques do not cover the whole process of participatory planning, but are applied as a tool constituting the numerical core for decision support. The complexity of multi-resource management is addressed by hierarchical decision analysis which assesses the public values, preferences and decision criteria toward the planning situation. An optimal management plan is sought using heuristic optimization. The plan can further be improved through mutual negotiations, if necessary. The use of the approach is demonstrated with an illustrative example. Its merits and challenges for participatory forest planning and decision making are discussed and a model for applying it in general forest planning context is depicted. By using the approach, valuable information can be obtained about public preferences and the effects of taking them into consideration on the choice of the combination of standwise treatment proposals for a forest area. Participatory forest planning calculations, carried out by the approach presented in the paper, can be utilized in conflict management and in developing compromises between competing interests.