Canadian Forest Service Publications

The development and application of a decision support system for sustainable forest management on the Boreal Plain. 2003. Van Damme, L.; Russell, J.S.; Doyon, F.; Duinker, P.N.; Gooding, T.; Hirsch, K.G.; Rothwell, R.L.; Rudy, A. Environmental Engineering and Science 2(S1): S23-S34.

Year: 2003

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 22852

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (download)

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Millar Western Forest Products Ltd. manages a forest in west-central Alberta under a Forest Management Agreement (FMA) with the Government of Alberta. Part of Millar Western's planning process brought researchers together to develop a decision support system (DSS) for forest management planning and monitoring programs. Four modules — timber supply, biodiversity, FIRE, and WATER — were built to evaluate, with the help of indicators of sustainable forest management, current and future forest conditions predicted from computer simulations of alternative management scenarios. In the first round of assessment four management scenarios, distinct by their level of silviculture intensification and by the spatial clearcut layout pattern, were compared. Such comparison has demonstrated that (1) the current forest management scenario improved moose habitat at the expense of timber supply, (2) all scenarios had similar fire risk, (3) generated increases in peak flow and water yield of selected watersheds, and (4) slightly impoverished forest biodiversity. All scenarios were examined in light of a computer-simulated natural disturbance benchmark. This led to landscape design scenarios to reduce fire risk and balance biodiversity indicators with timber supply objectives, one of which was eventually selected for implementation. The company's monitoring and research program is also highly focused on improving DSS modules and the underlying data, hence its association with the Forest Watershed and Riparian Disturbance (FORWARD) project, which considers the effects of forest management on aquatic ecosystem indicators.