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A Stochastic Dynamic Programming Approach to Optimize Short-Rotation Coppice Systems Management Scheduling: An Application to Eucalypt Plantations under Wildfire Risk in Portugal

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This article presents and discusses research with the aim of developing a stand-level management scheduling model for short-rotation coppice systems that may take into account the risk of wildfire. The use of the coppice regeneration method requires the definition of both the optimal harvest age in each cycle and the optimal number of coppice cycles within a full rotation. The scheduling of other forest operations such as stool thinning and fuel treatments (e.g., shrub removals) must be further addressed. In this article, a stochastic dynamic programming approach is developed to determine the policy (e.g., fuel treatment, stool thinning, coppice cycles, and rotation length) that maximizes expected net revenues. Stochastic dynamic programming stages are defined by the number of harvests, and state variables correspond to the number of years since the stand was planted. Wildfire occurrence and damage probabilities are introduced in the model to analyze the impact of the wildfire risk on the optimal stand management schedule policy. For that purpose, alternative wildfire occurrence and postfire mortality scenarios were considered at each stage. A typical Eucalyptus globulus Labill. stand in Central Portugal was used as a test case. Results suggest that the proposed approach may help integrate wildfire risk in short-rotation coppice systems management scheduling. They confirm that the maximum expected discounted revenue decreases with and is very sensitive to the discount rate and further suggest that the number of cycles within a full rotation is not sensitive to wildfire risk. Nevertheless, the expected rotation length decreases when wildfire risk is considered.
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Keywords: coppice system; eucalypt; forest management; stochastic dynamic programming; wildfire risk

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-08-02

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    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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