Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Elizabeth Dodson

Commitee Members

Matthew McKinney, Mark Hebblewhite


University of Montana


The forests of western Montana were historically characterized by mixed-severity fire regimes, which have been mostly absent due to fire suppression policies of the 20th century. This has changed stand structure and forest composition, resulting in a high risk of wildfire, loss of heterogeneity in forest types, and loss of valuable wildlife habitat. As a result forest stewardship, or holistic forest management, and long-term planning have been used widely by forest managers and landowners to improve forest health, to use resources efficiently, and to satisfy stakeholders. This case study shows how one agency, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP), could develop a forest stewardship planning protocol to improve wildlife habitat conditions on their forest properties. The planning process includes a forest inventory, development of forest restoration and habitat improvement prescriptions, and a ranking of potential projects according to multiple objectives using the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). Some difficulties were encountered while studying the example problem and can provide insight into how best to implement AHP in forest planning. With these difficulties considered, AHP was found to be a useful tool because it allows for incorporating multiple interests and objectives, accommodates multiple kinds of data, ranging from qualitative scientific models to quantitative values-based data, and allows for and facilitates communication with stakeholders. AHP enables efficient use of resources for difficult or complex forest planning problems and provides a tool for managers to analyze and communicate a preferential decision. If used appropriately, this planning tool could greatly improve the conditions of fire-dependent forests in western Montana and habitat of FWP lands by optimizing use of available funding on the forest stands most in need of stewardship and restoration.



© Copyright 2009 Christine Ann Paulu