Concepts of decision support for river rehabilitation


River rehabilitation decisions, like other decisions in environmental management, are often taken by authorities without sufficient transparency about how different goals, predictions, and concerns were considered during the decision making process. This can lead to lack of acceptance or even opposition by stakeholders. In this paper, a concept is outlined for the use of techniques of decision analysis to structure scientist and stakeholder involvement in river rehabilitation decisions. The main elements of this structure are (i) an objectives hierarchy that facilitates and stimulates explicit discussion of goals, (ii) an integrative probability network model for the prediction of the consequences of rehabilitation alternatives, and (iii) a mathematical representation of preferences for possible outcomes elicited from important stakeholders. This structure leads to transparency about expectations of outcomes by scientists and valuations of these outcomes by stakeholders and decision makers. It can be used (i) to analyze synergies and conflict potential between stakeholders, (ii) to analyze the sensitivity of alternative-rankings to uncertainty in prediction and valuation, and (iii) as a basis for communicating the reasons for the decision. These analyses can be expected to support consensus-building among stakeholders and stimulate the creation of alternatives with a greater degree of consensus. Because most decisions in environmental management are characterized by similarly complex scientific problems and diverse stakeholders, the outlined methodology will be easily transferable to other settings. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.