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Logicality of expert evaluations of berry yields by the experience and interests of forest planners

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In Finland, expert knowledge has been widely utilized when developing models that facilitate predicting the impacts of alternative forest management options on non-wood forest products. However, expert modelling has been criticized because of the uncertainty and inconsistencies it includes. In this study, expert evaluations regarding bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) and cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.) yields of different imaginary forest stands were analysed to find out whether the assessments were logically consistent. In particular, the consistency of the evaluations concerning berry production capacity of different stand densities and site fertilities was examined. The evaluations were made by 266 forest planners and other people whose work was related to field work in forest planning. The study also assessed whether the level of expertise (measured by two different variables, i.e. interest in berry picking and forest planning experience) affected the logic of the evaluations. It was found that on average both bilberry and cowberry yield assessments were in line with empirical research results found in literature. In addition, interest in berry picking was a more reasonable measure of berry yields in different forest stands than planning experience. The results of this study encourage the use of expert knowledge as a tool for forest planning and management.
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Keywords: Bilberry; cowberry; expert knowledge; expert modelling; level of expertise; logicality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Forest Sciences, 2: Department of Computer Science and Statistics, University of Joensuu, Joensuu, FI, Finland

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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