Incorporating uncertainty and social values in managing invasive alien species: a deliberative multi-criteria evaluation approach.
The management of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) is stymied by complex social values and severe levels of uncertainty. However, these two challenges are often hidden in the conventional model of management by "value-free" analyses and probability-based estimates of risk. As a result, diverse social values and wide margins of error in risk assessment carry zero weights in the decision-making process, leaving IAS risk decisions to be made in the wake of political pressure and the crisis atmosphere of incursion. We propose to use a Deliberative Multi-Criteria Evaluation (DMCE) to incorporate multiple social values and profound uncertainty into decision-making processes. The DMCE process combines the advantages of conventional multi-criteria decision analysis methods with the benefits of stakeholder participation to provide an analytical structure to assess complex multi-dimensional objectives. It, therefore, offers an opportunity for diverse views to enter the decision-making process, and for the negotiation of consensus positions. The DMCE process can also function as a platform for risk communication in which scientists, stakeholders, and decision-makers can interact and discuss the uncertainty associated with biological invasions. We examine two case studies that demonstrate how DMCE provides scientific rigor and transparency in the decision-making process of invasion risk management. The first case regards pre-border priority ranking for potential invasive species and the second relates to selecting the most desirable policy option for managing a post-border invader.