Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Georgia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Robinson, K.F., M.R. DuFour, J.L. Fischer, S.J. Herbst, M.L. Jones, L.R. Nathan, T.J. Newcomb. 2023. Lessons Learned in Applying Decision Analysis to Natural Resources Management for High Stakes Issues Surrounded by Uncertainty. Decision Analysis 20: 326-342.


Management agencies are tasked with difficult decisions for conservation and management of natural resources. These decisions are difficult because of ecological and social uncertainties, the potential for multiple decision makers from multiple jurisdictions, and the need to account for the diverse values of stakeholders. Decision analysis provides a needed framework for accounting for these difficulties when making conservation and management decisions. We discuss the benefits of the application of decision analysis for these types of issues and provide insights from three case studies from the Laurentian Great Lakes. These case studies describe applications of decision analysis for decisions within an agency (management of double-crested cormorant), among agencies (response to invasive grass carp), and among agencies and stakeholders (sustainable fisheries harvest management). These case studies provide insight into the ways that decision analysis can be useful for conservation and management of natural resources, but we also highlight future needs for decision making for these resources. In particular, applications of decision analysis for conservation and management would benefit from enhanced integration of both ecological and social science, inclusion of a broader base of stakeholders, and partnering with Indigenous peoples to better include traditional knowledge in these important decisions.