Coarse Filter Ecosystem Management in a Nonequilibrating Forest

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Abstract:



The natural disturbance model of forest management is the basis of many of the sustainable forest management systems being proposed for the boreal forest of Canada. Wildfire is the dominant natural agent of disturbance in the boreal mixed-wood forest. The natural disturbance model assumes that timber harvesting systems emulating the annual area burned by natural fire, its spatial distribution, and the amount of residual material can be developed. It is further assumed that natural processes can be emulated closely enough to maintain forest biota at natural or near-natural population levels. This is a coarse filter approach to ecosystem management.

In order to emulate the natural rate of disturbance, one needs to quantify it. The annual area burned in the study area, under natural conditions, is characterized as a random draw from a lognormal distribution. A modeling system comprised of an aspatial Monte Carlo simulation model and a linear programming based forest activity scheduling model was developed. The simulation model is used to develop 200 yr forecasts of probability distributions for habitat area of five vertebrate species under a stochastic wildfire regime. These probability distributions are used to construct habitat area constraints for use in an optimization model to help quantify the trade-offs between timber values and maintenance of the range of natural variability in the forest.

The model is used to identify the trade-offs between forest harvesting, wildlife habitat, and the degree of similarity between the managed forest structure and the distribution of structures that could be generated by natural disturbance. FOR. SCI. 49(2):209–223.

Keywords: Timber supply; environmental management; forest; forest fire; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural disturbance; natural resource management; natural resources; optimization; simulation; wildlife habitat

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2H1, Phone: (780)492-8221; Fax: (780)492-4323 glen.w.armstrong@ualberta.ca 2: Professor Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2H1, vic.adamowicz@ualberta.ca 3: Professor Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2H1, jim.beck@ualberta.ca 4: Boreal Ecosystems Research Ltd., 6915–106 St., Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6H 2W1, stevec@berl.ab.ca 5: Assistant Professor Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2H1, fiona.schmiegelow@ualberta.ca

Publication date: April 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
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