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A Framework and Software Tool to Support Collaborative Landscape Analysis: Fitting Square Pegs into Square Holes

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For landscape models to be applied successfully in management situations, models must address appropriate questions, include relevant processes and interactions, be perceived as credible and involve people affected by decisions. We propose a framework for collaborative model building that can address these issues, and has its roots in adaptive management, computer-supported collaborative work and landscape ecology. Models built through this framework integrate a variety of information sources, address relevant questions, and are customized for the particular landscape and policy environment under study. Participants are involved in the process from the start, and because their input is incorporated, they feel ownership of the resulting models, increasing the chance of model acceptance and application. There are two requirements for success: a tool that supports rapid model prototyping and modification, that makes a clear link between a conceptual and implemented model, and that has the ability to implement a wide range of model types; and a core team with skills in communication, research and analysis, and knowledge of ecology and forestry in addition to modelling. SELES (Spatially Explicit Landscape Event Simulator) is a tool for building and running models of landscape dynamics. It combines discrete event simulation with a spatial database and a relatively simple modelling language to allow rapid development of landscape simulations, and provides a high-level means of specifying complex model behaviours ranging from management actions to natural disturbance and succession. We have applied our framework in several forest modelling projects in British Columbia, Canada. We have found that this framework increases the interest by local experts and decision-makers to participate actively in the model building process. The workshop process and resulting models have efficiently provided insight into the dynamics of large landscapes over long time frames. The use of SELES has facilitated this process by providing a flexible, transparent environment in which models can be rapidly implemented and refined. As a result, model findings may be more readily incorporated into decision-support systems designed to assist resource managers in making informed decisions.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Simon Fraser University, 2: Research Consultant, 3: B.C. Ministry of Forest

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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