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A Multiattribute Utility Model for Incorporating Risk in Fire Management Planning

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The potential variability of investment returns often perplexes the investment selection process. On national forests, the relative efficiency of alternative fire management strategies is investigated using a modification of traditional cost plus loss methods. Current procedures do not indicate potential variability in the performance of these alternatives, however. A multiattribute utility model is presented as the appropriate framework for evaluating alternatives when decision-makers are concerned with the risk and efficiency implications of selecting a particular strategy. Among fire management planners, the term risk usually relates a perception of the variability of potential damages. A risk measure is defined and an index is created to indicate the performance of each fire management strategy relative to the potential performance of a standard established as a benchmark. Utility functions for the risk attribute were assessed using hypothetical lotteries where the value (utility) of risk was a function of its deviation from a risk benchmark. Two-attribute utility functions indicated surveyed respondents' preferences for attaining risk and efficiency related objectives. Analysis yielded two conclusions: (1) that fire management planners are not risk-averse, and (2) including risk as an attribute of the decision problem can significantly influence investment selection. Forest Sci. 32:1032-1048.
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Keywords: Decision analysis; economics; risk/return

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Professor, Department of Forest and Wood Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523

Publication date: 1986-12-01

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  • Important Notice: SAF's journals are now published through partnership with the Oxford University Press. Access to archived material will be available here on the Ingenta website until March 31, 2018. For new material, please access the journals via OUP's website. Note that access via Ingenta will be permanently discontinued after March 31, 2018. Members requiring support to access SAF's journals via OUP's site should contact SAF's membership department for assistance.

    Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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