Science Inventory

Non-monetary valuation using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis: Using a strength-of-evidence approach to inform choices among alternatives.


Martin, D. AND M. Mazzotta. Non-monetary valuation using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis: Using a strength-of-evidence approach to inform choices among alternatives. Ecosystem Services. Elsevier Online, New York, NY, 33:124-133, (2018).


This article is a contribution to the growing field of non-monetary valuation of ecosystem services. It is often useful to aggregate non-monetary ecosystem services values using methods for multi-criteria decision analysis for environmental decision making. A variety of sources of uncertainty in ecosystem services measurement (e.g. measurement error, sampling error, systematic error, natural variation, model assumptions, subjective judgments) are treated with general statistical or Bayesian techniques. In this article, we examine an approach to uncertainty in ecosystem services outcomes. Our approach focuses on strength of evidence preference measures to tradeoffs in modeled ecosystem service outcomes to facilitate the evaluation of environmental management alternatives. This kind of tradeoff evaluation is seldom performed for ecosystem services assessment and structured decision making methods. We applied the approach and discuss its application in a case study on the Woonasquatucket River watershed, Rhode Island.


This article demonstrates an approach to Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis that compares non-monetary ecosystem service (ES) outcomes for environmental decision making. ES outcomes are often inadequately defined and characterized by imprecision and uncertainty. Outranking methods enrich our understanding of the imperfect knowledge of ES outcomes by allowing decision makers to closely examine and apply preference measures to relationships among the outcomes. We explain the methodological assumptions related to the PROMETHEE methods (Preference Ranking Organization METHod for Enrichment Evaluation), and apply them to a wetland restoration planning study in Rhode Island, USA. In the study, we partnered with a watershed management organization to evaluate four wetland restoration alternatives for their abilities to supply five ES: flood water regulation, scenic landscapes, learning opportunities, recreation, and birds. Twenty-two benefit indicators were identified for the ES as well as one indicator for social equity and one indicator for reliability of ES provision. We developed preference functions to characterize the strength of evidence across estimated indicator values between pairs of alternatives. We ranked the alternatives based on these preferences and weights on ES relevant to different planning contexts. We discuss successes and challenges of implementing PROMETHEE, including feedback from our partners who utilized the methods.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 10/01/2018
Record Last Revised: 10/05/2018
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 342669