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The Impact of Uncertainty Concerning Historical Burned Area Estimates on Forest Management Planning

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Uncertainty concerning landscape burn fraction estimates is seldom considered by forest managers when they determine the forest age class structure for flammable forest landscapes. Fire simulation models, each calibrated to be representative of one of two different portions of the province of Ontario, Canada, for which natural burn fractions have been estimated, were used to simulate annual area burned time series. Using these simulated data, confidence intervals were computed for given burn fractions over a given time horizon and used to determine a range in the amount of old forest area expected in those hypothetical forests to achieve ecosystem management objectives. Those old forest objectives were incorporated in a strategic forest management planning model to assess the impact on planned harvest volume for those forests given those burn fraction estimates. The natural burn fraction of the simulated forest representative of the northeastern Ontario study area was low, and consequently more old forest area was required to meet ecosystem management objectives, resulting in a lower average harvest volume in the simulated forest than is representative of northwestern Ontario for which a higher natural burn fraction was estimated and for which less old-growth forest area was required to achieve ecosystem management objectives.
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Keywords: burn fraction; exponential distribution; forest ecosystem management; linear programming; simulation modeling

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-10-15

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.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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