Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y092282

    Landscape habitat supply modelling to develop and test management scenarios that balance ecological and socio-economic indicators
Project lead: Klenner, Walt (Ministry of Forests and Range)
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
The proposed project will help develop approaches and tools that will quantify the short- and long-term habitat conditions that are likely to develop under different forest management scenarios. We propose to use multiple-scenario habitat supply modelling to help identify practices that are likely to maintain desired conditions across large spatial and temporal scales (e.g. landscapes from 100-200,000+ ha and for periods of a century or more). A balanced approach to maintaining timber and non-timber values is a key issue in the development of sustainable forest management plans and future forest products marketing. The proposed work will further the development of specific tools and procedures that can illustrate the maintenance of desired conditions at both the stand (via an ongoing project using TASS Tree and Stand Simulator, see Mitchell 1975) and landscape scale (using TELSA - Tool for Landscape Scenario Analyses [see ).
It is necessary to consider the effects of stand management decisions when assessing larger scale landscapes since landscapes are composed of multiple stands, and there is clear information that habitat attributes at the stand level (e.g. stand density, snags, downed wood, etc.) affect a wide range of biota (see extensive reviews in Hunter, 1990, Hunter 1999, Lindenmayer and Franklin 2002). However, stand management alone is not enough to ensure multiple values are maintained. The published literature clearly indicates that there is no one stand-level treatment that can satisfy the habitat requirements of all biota, and species often require the habitat conditions of multiple stand types in their daily or annual activities. Furthermore, especially for wide-ranging species, landscape-level attributes such as connectivity or fragmentation, the mosaic of seral conditions, patch size and edge effects, roads and access, etc. become critical (Hargis et al. 1999, Kramer-Schadt 2004, Forman et al. 2003).

It is important to recognize that forest management is not the only factor that affects short- and long-term habitat supply. Natural disturbances can drastically change both stand structure and landscape pattern (for example, the current mountain pine beetle outbreak or the 2003 fire season), and timber and non-timber resource expectations need to address the uncertainty associated with natural disturbances (Hansen et al. 1993, Gustafson and Crow 1996, Klenner et al. 2000). Our landscape modelling work to date clearly shows that some desired conditions (e.g. old growth management area targets or dispersion) are difficult or impossible to maintain in the face of non-equilibrium natural disturbances (Klenner et al. 2000a, b), and that specific management practices need to be adopted to maintain options in dynamic ecosystems (Bengtsson et al. 2003). Multiple-scenario landscape assessments can help identify unrealistic expectations, and illustrate the utility of specific stand (e.g. variable retention/partial cutting) and landscape management (e.g. aggregated harvesting, road deactivation, etc.) practices that favor achieving and maintaining desired conditions.

Landscape modelling of timber and habitat values is relatively well established in the literature, but habitat supply modelling to address operational issues in British Columbia is not well established. The reasons for this are uncertain as timber supply modelling, a related activity that projects simple indicators of fiber supply in relation to tree growth and constraint assumptions, is well established and is a clearly recognized tool that is used to shape critical aspects of forest management policy. In this proposal, we plan to: (1) enhance the capabilities of the TELSA landscape planning tool to incorporate and track stand-level information, (2) further develop the suite of landscape indicators to reflect current technical information and perspectives (e.g. for connectivity, see Moilanen and Nieminena 2002, Richards et al. 2002), (3) develop three case study applications that demonstrate the utility of landscape-level habitat supply modelling in addressing operational issues, (4) synthesize the approaches and outcomes from the three case studies and the published literature to develop general habitat supply management principles that have application beyond the limited scope of the three case studies, (5) communicate the results of the project to operational foresters and planners via meetings, workshops, field discussions and a SIFR extension note, and (6) communicate project results to the broader scientific community through a peer-reviewed publication and presentations at universities and conferences.

Our case study applications will focus on three current operational issues:
(1) The short and long-term consequences of multi-stand retention options in mountain pine beetle salvage areas. Salvage harvesting of forests affected by wildfire or insect attack has become controversial, as large areas are salvage logged to reduce economic losses. Although little can be done to diminish the extent of tree mortality, the extent and nature of salvage harvesting remain an issue (Foster and Orwig 2003, Hutto 2006, Lindenmayer and Noss 2006, Lindenmayer and Ough 2006, Noss and Lindenmayer 2006, Reeves et al. 2006, Schmiegelow et al. 2006).
(2) Developing balanced approaches to managing dry forest ecosystems for timber, forage, forest fuels and wildlife habitat and biodiversity values. Dry forest management (Covington and Moore 1994, Shinneman and Baker 1997, Noss et al. 2006, Parr and Andersen 2006) represents many challenges due to the frequent proximity of these forests to urban areas, and their long history of management (or mismanagement) for desired commodities. Dry forest management in southern BC is facing challenges and represents a clear opportunity for applying habitat supply modelling at the landscape level to illustrate options and their likely consequences for multiple values.

(3) Approaches to landscape-level habitat management in mountain caribou early winter range have received much emphasis in recent years as herds continue to decline over most of their current range (Stevenson et al. 2001, Wittmer et al. 2005, McNay 2006). Our approach to incorporating stand structure information into the TELSA landscape model will allow for the development of management scenarios that seek to balance timber extraction, the maintenance of adequate arboreal lichen substrate, avoiding the increase of forage species for ungulates such as moose and deer, and the maintenance or creation of landscape patterns that diminish the interspersion of seral conditions in high elevation forest.
Related projects:  FSP_Y081282FSP_Y103282

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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