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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2009) 54(3): 38–43
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Professional Paper
Robust decisions in a climate of change: what should you do tomorrow if you do not know what will be happening in 30 years?

Cris Brack 1

1 Professor and Chair of Forestry School of Forestry, Wood Processing and Biotechnology Waiariki Institute of Technology

Climate variability and the political uncertainty around possible carbon trading systems have focused attention on the impact of risk on long term planning. Researchers have published comparisons of short/long plantation regimes and integrated or simple grazing/cropping regimes under different “future scenarios” and made qualified conclusions about the expected discounted value or land rent under different scenarios. However, a plantation or a farming enterprise is not the result of a single, irrevocable decision or action. Each year or season, the manager can decide to continue the current land use and scheduled activities, change the land use or proposed sequence of activities, or invest more time/effort into making a decision. Good management should minimise the loss of options for that land and should not result in the scheduling of activities that “lock” land into poor uses. Essentially, managers should be choosing robust decisions or activities that are likely to lead to good outcomes under a wide range of potential futures. This presentation examines a system for determining robust decisions and quantifying the different aspects of risk that have the greatest impact on the outcome of the decisions that need to be made in the immediate future.
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