Group Decision and Negotiation

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 387–417 | Cite as

Multicriteria Decision Analysis of Stream Restoration: Potential and Examples

  • H. J. Corsair
  • Jennifer Bassman Ruch
  • Pearl Q. Zheng
  • Benjamin F. HobbsEmail author
  • Joseph F. Koonce


Within stream restoration practice there has been little use of formal decision analysis methods for evaluating tradeoffs in selecting restoration sites and design alternatives. Restoration planning suffers from poorly defined objectives, confusion of objectives and means, and a lack of consideration of tradeoffs. Multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) methods have the potential to improve restoration decision making by quantifying non-economic objectives, communicating tradeoffs, facilitating consistent and explicit valuation, and focusing negotiation on ultimate objectives. To explore the potential usefulness of MCDA, we first review restoration practices and define the characteristics of projects that are good candidates for MCDA. We also present two case studies. The first study is a prioritization of stream reaches for restoration that illustrates how value judgments can affect such decisions. The second study addresses the proposed removal of the Ballville Dam on the Sandusky River in Ohio. An important challenge in the dam removal decision is the linking of habitat improvements to changes in species populations and ecological services that people value. The analysis shows how MCDA can assist decision making by clarifying tradeoffs, in this case by showing that the key issues are conflicts among ecological criteria—not all of which are improved by restoration.


Multiattribute decision analysis Environmental management Stream restoration Public involvement 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. J. Corsair
    • 1
  • Jennifer Bassman Ruch
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pearl Q. Zheng
    • 1
  • Benjamin F. Hobbs
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joseph F. Koonce
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental EngineeringThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Energetics Inc.7067 Columbia Gateway DriveColumbiaUSA

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