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Multifunctional management of forests


A multi-criteria decision support system on enterprise level

Multifunctional forest management today presents a major challenge for forest enterprises. The diverse demanded goods and services of the forest lead to a complicated forest planning and decision making. Appropriate concepts and tools are required to support this.


Sustainable forest management today is highly complex. In addition to the function of timber production, social demands, such as the conservation of biodiversity, protection against gravitational hazards and recreational values, must increasingly be taken into consideration. This situation presents a major challenge for forest enterprises, particularly in the context of their forest planning processes. Consequently, they are, among other things, faced with the question of the most appropriate silvicultural treatment strategies (STS) in order to fulfil the requirements of ecosystem services (ES).

In response to this situation, this PhD-project endeavours to answer the following research questions:

  • Which STS are most suitable to meet the objectives of different ES?
  • What are appropriate indicators and methods to assess ES and to compare STS?
  • How should STS be evaluated with regard to the fulfilment of ES?
    • Which STS are most suitable to meet the objectives of different ES?
    • How can optimal target profiles be defined, both at the level of forest stand as well as at the enterprise level?
    • Is there a “WIN-WIN-Strategy” (Trade-off Situation)
  • What influence does climate change have on the fulfilment of ES?
  • What is the financial impact of different STS on forest enterprises?

To answer these research questions, a multi-criteria Decision Support System for long-term forest planning process is designed.

  1. The first step towards the system’s elaboration entails the development of an indicator model, based on the method of multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA), which enables the assessment and evaluation of different ES.
  2. In the second step, the forest growth and management simulation model WaldPlaner of the Northwest German Forest Research Station will be adapted to Swiss conditions. The model will be used to define STS and simulate the future development of forests. In order to assess financial consequences, the timber harvesting productivity model HeProMo and the assortment model SorSim of the WSL will be interlinked.
  3. In the third step, the whole system will be applied to two case studies, a forest enterprise in the Swiss midlands and one in the alpine region. In addition, data of the Swiss National Forest Inventory will be used for the investigation of the research questions.