[Text Graphic] Getting Started


US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station














Charting Your Route
Preview of CRAFT Products
More on What You Will Need


CRAFT is designed to lead you through four distinct stages of planning and analysis: Specifying Objectives, Designing Alternatives, Modeling Effects, and Synthesis. Because some problems are more complex than others and users have various levels of experience, teams will move through various stages at different paces and levels of detail. The primary route through CRAFT is fairly streamlined and assumes that you are either experienced in the general planning process incorporated here, or are looking for a quick overview of the steps in CRAFT. CRAFT also provides a task-oriented format, called the "Wizard," for a slower, more methodical pace; this path also incorporates specific elements of Decision Protocol 2.0. As you gain experience with CRAFT, you likely will have less need for the Wizard. Most planning problems are best addressed by progressing sequentially, with an occasional loop back to a previous stage. CRAFT is flexible, however, and there may be occasions when only part of CRAFT is required.

The primary components of the CRAFT web site are arranged as follows:

  1. Specifying Objectives: Clear management objectives are vital, especially when managing for multiple competing resources. A hierarchical arrangement of objectives helps to clarify possible conflicts and places competing values in context. CRAFT can help you build an Objectives Hierarchy that arrays a range of management and stakeholder values from the more general, why to the more specific, how. While any objective may be affected by an action, objectives at lower levels in the hierarchy are affected more directly and are more easily measured. These measurable objectives are used to design alternatives and analyze effects.

  2. Designing Alternatives: Matching alternatives to objectives is key to project success. Given the complex nature of ecosystems, no management alternative is likely to meet all objectives. Some alternatives will be more capable of meeting multiple objectives than others. CRAFT helps planners design alternatives based on how well they might satisfy objectives. Relatively crude models are developed in the Alternative Design section, paving the way for a more detailed analysis of tradeoffs in the Effects section that follows. Based on initial analysis of alternative effects, you may alter, add or remove alternatives from consideration.
  3. Modeling Effects: Realistically projecting the effects of different alternatives is fundamental to a comparative risk assessment. CRAFT uses Bayesian belief networks to link objectives, actions, and consequences. Using belief networks allows planning teams to meld expert opinion, empirical data, and other types of information from other models. The belief networks can model complex environmental dynamics and display the consequences and uncertainties of alternative actions. Sensitivity analyses indicate the relative importance of factors contributing to an outcome (e.g., the effectiveness of alternative fuels treatments under different weather conditions).
  4. Synthesis: CRAFT provides a framework to improve communication among all stakeholders by transparently portraying objectives, tradeoffs, uncertainties and risk tolerance. Uncertainty is unavoidable in making decisions, but different uncertainties have varying consequences. Synthesis is designed to pull together the information generated in previous steps and enhance understanding of the interplay among uncertainty, outcomes, and personal values and attitudes. The end result of Synthesis is a thorough rationale for a preferred or recommended alternative.
  5. Wizard: leads users step-by-step through through planning and risk assessment. In response to detailed queries, users enter information into customized tables. Wizard provides guidance for clarifying objectives, analyzing problems, designing and refining action alternatives, and analyzing effects. Detailed protocols emphasize the accurate portrayal of cause and effect processes, uncertainty evaluation, monitoring and reference values, and tradeoffs among competing risks. Finally, steps are provided to characterize and communicate risk to decision makers and diverse stakeholders. For an overview, visit the Wizard Outline and Tables page.
  6. Resources: This page lead you toward other sources of data, information, models, procedures, guidelines, and protocols. It contains an extensive description of various fire models and related tools with links, as well as links in support of monitoring planning and implementation. It includes real-life examples in the form of case studies and model templates related to forest management issues. It also provides access to Decision Protocol 2.0 (DP 2.0).
  7. Site Map: This page helps with navigation.
  8. Support: This page provides information about CRAFT's developers, including how they can be contacted.


In CRAFT, three distinct but related products are created in the Specifying Objectives, Designing Alternatives, and Modeling Effects stages. These products, the objectives hierarchy, the effects model, and the set of action alternatives can be represented by a single decision model:

Overview of the CRAFT process. Alternatives influence variables in your effects model which flows toward endpoints that tier to your objectives hierarchy.

This model depicts the cause-and-effect relationships between alternative actions and a hierarchy of management objectives. Alternatives (blue boxes) help us achieve our objectives (green boxes), but only if the web of cause and effect (yellow circles) allows it. Rigorous linkages from alternatives to objectives helps ensure management effectiveness.



In the course of working through a planning exercise, you likely will create a mix of diagrams, text, tables, and data, in addition to the specific risk-assessment models created as part of the effects analysis. Many standard office productivity software packages contain a mix of capabilities for the following:

  1. Creating an organizational chart or other hierarchical diagram needed to display an objective hierarchy. For example, Microsoft Word® and Powerpoint® have this capability.

  2. Drawing conceptual diagrams. Box-and-arrow or other flow diagrams can be useful to build and display conceptual models.
  3. Working with tables or spreadsheets. CRAFT's question-based protocols ask users to enter responses in tabular form. These tables currently are linked to individual Excel® spreadsheets.
  4. Storing manipulating, and displaying data. Any popular spreadsheet, relational database, or statistical package should work.

Probabilistic modeling requires the most specialized software. We believe that Bayesian belief networks or influence diagrams provide the most accessible means of such modeling, but other approaches are possible. CRAFT's examples and tutorials are based on Netica®, developed by Norsys. Files with a ".dne" extension can be opened with Netica or viewed with any text editor. Other belief network and decision analysis applications—many free—are available via links on the page, Software for Belief Networks. One of the more sophisticated and friendly of the freeware applications is GeNIe, available from the Decision Systems Laboratory at University of Pittsburgh. Hugin Expert® is a premier commercial product, but is expensive. Analytica® provides a more general and versatile modeling environment than Netica but lacks some of Netica's more desirable features such as diagnostic reasoning.

DISCLAIMER: Reference to commercial and non-commercial software is for information purposes only and does not indicate formal endorsement of any product by CRAFT developers, the USDA, or NCSSF.


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Home ~ Getting Started ~ Resources ~ Wizard ~ Site Map
I. Specifying Objectives ~ II. Designing Alternatives ~III. Modeling Effects ~ IV. Synthesis


Version 1.0
Last updated: July 14, 2005











Getting Started Objectives Alternatives Effects Synthesis Wizard Resources Site Map Support CRAFT Home page