Albulescu, A.-C.* and Larion, D. 2019. Application of Fuzzy and Classical Multi-Criteria Decision-Making Methods in Assessing the Forest Area Preservation Level of Romania’s Counties. Baltic Forestry 25(2): 263-272.

   With over a quarter of its territory covered by forest, Romania stands out as a European country with a medium forest area extension. Despite the fact that the forest area has increased since 2008, there are counties that are affected by forest loss caused by outlawed forest cutting and other factors. This calls for improved knowledge and critical spatial planning of the forest area at county level. The aim of this study is to assess the forest area preservation level of Romania’s 41 counties using fuzzy and classical Multi-Criteria Decision-Making methods. The paper includes inferences regarding the distribution of the illegal forest cutting cases at county level, that link forest management issues with the forest area preservation level. Fuzzy Analytic Hierarchy Process (FAHP) is applied to weigh factors related to the changes of forest provisions, forest loss and forest regeneration processes, dimensions of forest exploitation and illegal forest cutting cases using forest data referring to 1990-2017. The alternatives are represented by the 41 counties of Romania and are evaluated by the use of Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS). The results are integrated with GIS and the choropleth map may serve as a powerful visual and practical tool for identifying the counties with pressing forest loss issues. Results show the counties with the lowest levels of forest area preservation were Argeș, Prahova and Gorj. Harghita, Brăila and Suceava counties recorded the highest levels of forest area preservation. While some of the counties that rank among the least in terms of forest area preservation are also altered by massive illegal forest cutting, there are others that serve as counter-examples. The discrepancies are explained by the provisional character of the illegal forest cutting data. Our study shows significant practical importance, pointing out the administrative units of Romania that need to take urgent action in order to mitigate the problem of forest loss and to better their forest management.

Keywords: forest area preservation, Fuzzy Analytic Hierarchy Process, Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution, forest management, illegal forest cutting, Romania.