MESTA â NON-INDUSTRIAL PRIVATE FOREST OWNERS' DECISION-SUPPORT ENVIRONMENT FOR THE EVALUATION OF ALTERNATIVE FOREST PLANS OVER THE INTERNET
The supply of Internet-based forest planning services to non-industrial private forest owners has increased. At the core of these services there is usually the "paper forest plan" in browseable format. The options to update the stand-level data and to download, fill and send various forms related to stand treatments are further characteristics of these services. The real potential of web-based services has not yet, however, been fully exploited. In addition, changes in the structure of non-industrial private forest ownership call for new facilities to be included in these services. The aim of this article is to present some characteristics that could be included in Internet-based forest planning services. The Mesta decision support service is intended to be used independently by forest owners, who are interested in examining, over the Internet, the production possibilities of their forest holding and in comparing alternative forest plans with respect to different goals concerning the use of their forest holding. Mesta includes a facility enabling preliminary objective enquiries from the forest owner, the creation and presentation of alternative forest plans and multi-criteria comparisons of alternative forest plans. The comparison technique is so executed that forest owners' independent assessments are enabled over the Internet without necessitating personal guidance by forest planning consultants. The results of trial use involving eight North-Karelian forest owners were encouraging. However, the current version of Mesta has been developed for research purposes and its properties and user-friendliness need to be improved before it can be included as a component of commercial Internet-based forest planning services.
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