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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

The science of decisionmaking: Applications for sustainable forest and grassland management in the National Forest System


Matthew Thompson

Bruce Marcot

Frank Thompson

Steven McNulty

Larry Fisher

Michael Runge

David Cleaves

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Secondary Title:
Department of Agriculture, Forest Service


Sustainable management of national forests and grasslands within the National Forest System (NFS) often requires managers to make tough decisions under considerable uncertainty, complexity, and potential conflict. Resource decisionmakers must weigh a variety of risks, stressors, and challenges to sustainable management, including climate change, wildland fire, invasive species, insects, pests, diseases, demographic shifts, economic conditions, and changing societal values. The craft of natural resource decisionmaking will demand more adaptive qualities in the future and a more flexible toolkit. In light of these current and emerging challenges and the need for science delivery to keep pace with advancements in the disciplines of decision science and risk management, now is a good time to refocus on supporting and enhancing natural resource management decisionmaking. The science of decisionmaking can provide managers with useful concepts and tools to address risks, stressors, and challenges and to achieve desirable outcomes.