Empirical guidelines for forest management decision support systems based on the past experiences of the expert’s community


Aim of the study: Decision support systems for forest management (FMDSS) have been developed world wide to account for a broad range of forest ecosystems, management goals and organizational frameworks (e.g. the wiki page of the FORSYS project reports 62 existing FMDSSs from 23 countries). The need to enhance the collaboration among this diverse community of developers and users fostered the rise of new group communication processes that could capture useful knowledge from past experiences in order to efficiently provide it to new FMDSS development efforts. Material and methods: This paper presents and tests an exploratory process aiming to identify the empirical guidelines assisting developers and users of FMDSS. This process encompasses aDelphi survey built upon the consolidation of the lessons-learned statements that summarize the past experiences of the experts involved in the FORSYS project. The experts come from 34 countries and have diverse interests, ranging from forest planners, IT developers, social scientists studying participatory planning, and researchers with interests in knowledge management and in quantitative models for forest planning. Main results : The proposed 37 empirical guidelines that group 102 lessons-learned cover a broad range of issues including the DSS development cycle, involvement of the stakeholders, methods, models and knowledge-based techniques in use. Research highlights: These results may be used for improving new FMDSS development processes, teaching and training and further suggest new features of FMDSS and future research topics. Furthermore, the guidelines may constitute a knowledge repository that may be continuously improved by a community of practice. Keywords: Forest management; guidelines; guidelines definition process; lessons learned; decision support systems; system architecture; knowledge management; participatory planning; Delphi.