Opportunities of using the analytic hierarchy process method in geographic research. An application of the AHP on the deforestation problem in Romania
Keywords:Analytic Hierarchy Process, AHP, geographic research, multi-criteria decision making method
The value of geographic research consists in its desiderata to understand, improve and protect its object of study and in its capacity to constantly expand its horizons by developing new methods or integrating the ones that are commonly used in other fields of research. The AHP is a multi-criteria decision-making method tangentially used in Geography, especially regarding risk assessments and site suitability studies. This paper aims to reveal the opportunities of using the AHP in geographic research providing a compelling example of an application of this method in a geographic context. The AHP application focuses on the deforestation problem in Romania, evaluating it in four counties (Alba, Gorj, Maramureș and Suceava) with respect to five factors – the deforested area, the deforestation rate, the regeneration works, the GDP per capita and the population density. Ensuring a better understanding of the method’s implementation, the example helps to illustrate the contribution of the AHP in solving geographic matters. The integration of the AHP as a research tool in this field is discussed in correlation with its advantages and disadvantages. The bias induced by the subjective evaluations of the decision maker is balanced by the inclusion of both quantitative and qualitative aspects and by the consistency checking mechanism. This makes the AHP a complete aggregation method that provides reliable results that can be effectively used in the pursuit of sustainable development, social innovation and increasing territorial resilience.