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Exploring Stakeholders' Perceptions with Analytic Hierarchy Process—A Case Study of Red Sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus L.) Restoration in India



Diverse stakeholders and multiple management options pose challenges to restoration planning and management. Analytic hierarchy process (AHP), a multicriteria decision-making tool, can be effectively used for incorporating stakeholders' perceptions in planning. By using Red sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus L.) restoration as a case study, we demonstrate its suitability in eliciting stakeholders' perceptions about the most suitable management option, and their expectations from it. Four key stakeholder groups, Administrators, Field Officers, Community, and Knowledgeable Sources, were used to identify the most suitable management option from Government Management (GM), Quasi-Government Management, Community Forest Management (CFM), and Private Management. Results indicate that stakeholders' preferences for management options were not homogeneous. Consolidated priorities across all the stakeholder groups indicated the CFM (34%) as the most preferred option followed by the GM (31%). With an average weight of 56%, the ecological criterion was considered as the most important. The ability of the managements in reducing disturbances (23%), improving Red sanders density (18%), improving ecosystem services (15%), and in improving rural livelihoods (15%) were considered important. The preferences of the Administrators and the Field Officers for the GM indicated their support for the top-down management approach, and skepticism toward the CFM, a bottom-up approach. Compared to the Administrators, the Field Officers' lack of support for the CFM was surprisingly more pronounced. Results indicate the usefulness of the AHP technique in identifying common grounds between the diverse stakeholders, and the management, in identifying a suitable management alternative and in prioritizing preferences.