Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y071006

    Developing a cumulative effects model of forest aesthetics at the landscape level: automating the spatial design and planning of variable retention
Project lead: Meitner, Michael (University of British Columbia)
Imprint: Vancouver, BC. : University of British Columbia, 2007
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Variable retention harvesting, British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
Modern forestry continues to become increasingly complex because foresters are asked to fulfill a wide range of diverse and often competing goals within a limited area. Wildlife habitat, outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation, scenic landscapes, a thriving forest sector, and continued access to clean water are just a few of the ever increasing goals that society expects from forests on our public lands. To begin to address these goals, forest management has been rapidly evolving toward a more complex system of stand structure where natural variability is desired or emulated. Often times this is expressed in the form of partial or variable retention. It is in the context of grappling with these new stand structures that the idea for this project arose. In our experience, the specific design of variable retention is often done at the site level without much thought about the landscape level issues that the site will interact with. In addition, many times the actual pattern that results from these forest operations is not actually planned out in advance but rather left to the faller to 'select' the areas that will be retained while onsite. While this will likely to continue to be the case as very large scale details will only be evident when onsite it does not preclude smaller scale information from informing the faller to more fully address landscape level targets or criterion. We propose to address these problems by creating a system by which individual cutblock patterns (both clearcut and variable retention blocks) can be assessed on a battery of spatial statistics and can then be automatically modified to better meet targets that the user specifies. To do this we will create a tool that incorporates geographic information systems and forest visualization technologies, to assist forest managers in producing a harvest plan (the combination of numerous cutblock designs). The tool, the Harvest and Retention Planner (HaRP), is a decision support utility designed to allow managers to play 'what if' scenarios at the stand and landscape level to ascertain the effects of including various amounts, patterns and types of variable retention in a harvesting plan. HaRP will generate a harvest design that meets user specified requirements by accepting an initial set of cut blocks and combining them with spatially explicit management parameters or harvesting rules. The purpose for developing this model is to provide forest planners with a tool that can create a harvest design by proactively meeting a range of management issues, including sustainability, biodiversity, wildlife habitat and visual quality.
Contact: Meitner, Michael J., (604) 822-0029,

Updated August 16, 2010 

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