Insights on the use of decision-support tools to sustain forest ecosystems from a case study in Pennsylvania, USA

Joshua Rittenhouse, Laura Leites, Kelly Derham, Scott Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Decision-support models combine ecological understanding with utility considerations to evaluate potential results of management alternatives, thereby facilitating decision-making. They also provide a systematic, consistent, and rigorous framework for decision-making that is highly valuable for transparency in the management process. Despite the broad agreement on their importance, not many examples of organizations implementing their use at broad scale exist in the literature. Here we use the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry adoption and use of the SILVAH-Oak decision-support tool to guide management of mixed-oak forests as a case study to draw insights on managers' adherence to decision-support tool recommendations. Of 97 cases evaluated, 69% of the managers chose to follow the decision-support tool recommendation. We attribute this high adherence to the manager-centered development of the SILVAH-Oak tool. When managers did not follow recommendations, they cited reasons related to the tool's thresholds or considerations not accounted for by SILVAH-Oak. The delivery method was found to make a large difference in the level of adherence to the decision-support tool's recommendations. Case studies like this one provide unique opportunities to learn about the adoption of decision-support tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-395
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Forestry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 29 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Plant Science


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