Practical application of multi-criteria analysis in ecosystem service management and ecological restoration


Mchich DERAK (Regional Administration Forest, Tétouan, Morocco)


Ecological restoration is a suitable tool to enhance human well-being and improve the provision of vital ecosystem services. Restoration decisions may affect or be affected by different groups of stakeholders with diverse and often conflicting interests. The active involvement of stakeholders in ecosystem service management is increasingly considered as necessary for efficient and democratic restoration strategies.

Multi-criteria analysis (MCA) helps decision makers in structuring and justifying their decisions. MCA allows participatory assessment of restoration options regarding the provision of marketable and no marketable goods and services.

In general, MCA includes five main steps: structuration, standardization, weighting, integrated evaluation and sensitivity analysis. In practical cases, the achievement of these steps is not easy, and precautions should be taken regarding a series of factors: choice of alternatives and criteria, suitable structuring of the decisional problem, adoption of a weighting procedure appropriate for all stakeholders, analysis of the consistency of the preferences, aggregation of individual stakeholder preferences, and exploration of MCA outputs, among others. If these factors are not controlled through appropriate methodological adaptations, the accuracy and harmony of the MCA results are affected, which may lead to imprecise and even erroneous conclusions.

MCA problems can be tackled using decision support models such as DEFINITE, ELWIS, EXPERT CHOICE, etc. MCA exercises can be also solved using EXCEL program. Handling these programs allows practitioners to deal with MCA problems in a quick and consistent way.

In studies and projects linked to ecological restoration, carrying out a MCA exercise involving a multitude of stakeholders, with different aspirations and sources of knowledge, requires theoretical concepts but also practical abilities that allow facing with professionalism different decisional problems.


During the course, participants will be given a synthesis on the decision support techniques, as well as the MCA methods applied for ecosystem services management. Participants will also carry out real case exercises using MCA, as a simulation of practical analysis with stakeholders, with special emphasis on weighting procedures and verification of stakeholder preferences’ consistency. Furthermore, participants will be given practical advices to interpret MCA outputs and the way to validate them, together with stakeholders.

At the end of the course, participants will have acquired practical abilities:

  • To bring appropriate methodological adaptations to deal with a wide range of services and stakeholders.
  • To use suitable MCA methods for a given decisional context.
  • To avoid typical errors when achieving each MCA step.
  • To understand the concept of inconsistency of preferences, control its different sources and bring acquired rectifications.
  • To collectively interpret and validate MCA outputs.


2 hours