Multi-criteria evaluation of sustainability impact assessment (SIA) results

SIA may assess a system ex-post and compare it to some baseline or in a scenario-based ex-ante approach to ensure that outcomes of a policy or a project are environmentally and socio-economically sound. The three sustainability dimensions are therefore broken down into measurable criteria and indicators that assess the sustainability of a specific policy or project.  Evaluating the  impacts of policy scenarios or courses of action on sustainability issues includes judgements and preferences of experts and stakeholders (some level of stakeholder particpation is always required to qualify as SIA). Therefore, multi-criteria decision analysis is a well-fitting tool to assist SIA as it evaluates the appropriateness of alternatives based on specific criteria and according to stakeholder’s preferences.

This research project focuses on multifunctional landscapes which provide ecosystem services that are affected by a variety of pressures and impacts. Multi-criteria analysis and stakeholder interaction processes are applied to evaluate different forest landuse strategies under risk and uncertainty due to changing climate and socio-economic conditions. Value-based trade-offs among the provision of ecosystem services in time and in space, and among stakeholders are analysed and provided for use in decision making processes.

After developing a modified SIA framework through the integration of the ecosystem service concept and sustainability impact assessment, the modified framework is applied to several case studies. The case studies, which are part of the ARANGE project (, represent seven mountain regions across Europe covering the most important forest types in the main mountain ranges characterized by distinct biophysical and governance settings. The implications of stakeholder preferences  for the design of sustainable forest landuse strategies are explored and translated into decision support for decision makers.