Conference Paper

Using multi-criteria decision analysis to guide integrative, non-native, invasive plant, management planning on dod installations

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Abstract

Background/Question/Methods Incongruence between the cost of non-native, invasive plant species (NIS) control and the funds available for management demand that informed choices be made about where and when to invest management efforts. However, NIS management on DOD installations is complicated by numerous factors unique among federal land stewards: 1) military training activities can affect NIS spread and establishment, 2) NIS have multiple and varied impacts on military training and natural resources, 3) suboptimal management decisions can have long-term ecological and economic consequences, 4) multiple installation stakeholders can have conflicting management objectives, and 5) NIS management funding is tied to multiple programs. Objective and transparent resolutions are needed to facilitate the development of effective NIS management strategies and the cross-installation cooperation necessary to successfully implement them. We used Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) to prioritize NIS management implementation at Fort Bragg, NC. Prioritization was driven by two sub-objectives, namely minimizing impacts to natural resources management and ensuring certain management efficiencies were realized. The spatially explicit MCDA was conducted in a geographic information system using weighted evaluation criteria describing NIS characteristics, distribution, and abundance, as well as the magnitude of the potential impacts NIS exert on protected species and military training. Results/Conclusions The systematic, objective, flexible, transparent, and reproducible approach of MCDA substantially improved decision-making by forcing careful consideration of the best available knowledge about NIS ecology, impacts to natural resource management objectives, legal requirements for NIS management, and control costs within a hierarchy of objectives. NIS sites identified by the MCDA have been preferentially targeted for control by the Fort Bragg NIS Management Program. This study represents the first known attempt to apply spatial MCDA to NIS management prioritization. There also has not been any previous attempt to compile an exhaustive list of evaluation criteria, with relative weights of importance, for assigning risk of NIS impacts to DOD training lands. Without MCDA to inform NIS management, DOD installations are at risk of spending much money and making little progress towards achieving NIS management objectives. Application of spatial MCDA to NIS management prioritization has the potential to offer similar benefits on other publicly managed properties or cooperative weed management areas.

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