The use of a web-based multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) in participatory environmental decision making in Finland
Mustajoki et al. (2004) describe the use of MCDA in planning for multiple uses of the Paijanne Lake – Finland’s second largest lake. The lake has been regulated since 1964 with the original objectives being to increase hydropower production and decrease agricultural flood damage. There has been growing public interest to reconsider the regulation policy to better take into account the increased recreational use and current high environmental awareness. An extensive multidisciplinary research project was carried out between 1995 and 1999 to re-evaluate the regulation policy of the lake. The aims of the project were to assess the ecological, economic and social impacts of the regulation. Stakeholder opinions were sought about the current regulation and its development, a comparison of new regulation policy options, and recommendations to diminish the harmful impacts of the regulation. An open and participatory planning process was considered necessary to gain public support for the project and to find consensus on a new regulation strategy. A steering group consisting of 18 representatives of different stakeholders was set up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the permit holder of the regulation license. Additionally, four working groups were established to improve communication between the water resource authorities, local stakeholders, regulation experts and researchers. To inform the public, a local press conference was arranged after almost every steering group meeting.