The value of information for woodland management: Updating a state–transition model

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Value of information (VOI) analyses reveal the expected benefit of reducing uncertainty to a decision maker. Most ecological VOI analyses have focused on population models rarely addressing more complex community models. We performed a VOI analysis for a complex state–transition model of Box-Ironbark Forest and Woodland management. With three management alternatives (limited harvest/firewood removal (HF), ecological thinning (ET), and no management), managing the system optimally (for 150 yr) with the original information would, on average, increase the amount of forest in a desirable state from 19% to 35% (a 16-percentage point increase). Resolving all uncertainty would, on average, increase the final percentage to 42% (a 19-percentage point increase). However, only resolving the uncertainty for a single parameter was worth almost two-thirds the value of resolving all uncertainty. We found the VOI to depend on the number of management options, increasing as the management flexibility increased. Our analyses show it is more cost-effective to monitor low-density regrowth forest than other states and more cost-effective to experiment with the no-management alternative than the other management alternatives. Importantly, the most cost-effective strategies did not include either the most desired forest states or the least understood management strategy, ET. This implies that managers cannot just rely on intuition to tell them where the most VOI will lie, as critical uncertainties in a complex system are sometimes cryptic.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The value of information for woodland management: Updating a state–transition model
Series title Ecosphere
DOI 10.1002/ecs2.1998
Volume 8
Issue 11
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description e01998; 12 p.
First page 1
Last page 12
Country Australia
State Victoria
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