Canadian Forest Service Publications

The application of a hierarchical, decision-support system to evaluate multi-objective forest management strategies: a case study in northeastern British Columbia, Canada. 2004. Seely, B.; Nelson, J.; Wells, R.; Peter, B.; Meitner, M.; Anderson, A.; Harshaw, H.; Sheppard, S.; Bunnell, F.L.; Kimmins, H.; Harrison, D. Forest Ecology and Management 199: 283-305.

Year: 2004

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 24940

Language: English

Availability: Not available through the CFS (click for more information).

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2004.05.048

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Increases in the environmental awareness of global consumers coupled with pressure from regional stakeholders has forced forest managers to demonstrate the potential implications of forest management activities for a broad range of indicators. This paper describes the construction and application of a hierarchical decision-support system for evaluating multi-objective management options for a 288,000 ha forest in northeastern British Columbia. The decision-support system includes a stand-level model, a forest estate model, a habitat model and a visualization model. A set of criteria and indicators, developed in conjunction with a public advisory committee, were used to identify key economic, ecological and social objectives. Indicators include volume harvested, gross profit, active road density, ecosystem carbon storage, age-class distribution, patch-size distribution, snag density, visual aesthetics and backcountry recreation area. A natural disturbance baseline and two alternative harvest strategies that include natural disturbance are projected and assessed with the decision-support system. The first strategy represents a dispersed harvesting approach in which cut blocks are limited to sizes <60 ha. The second strategy represents an aggregated harvesting approach in which a range of cut block sizes (up to 2000 ha) and shapes is created that more closely follows the distribution of openings generated from natural disturbance events in the region. Spatial and temporal changes in each indicator are presented and evaluated for the harvest strategies, and compared to the natural disturbance baseline where appropriate. The application of the decision-support system for strategic analysis of management options is discussed, including a review of the importance of representing the impacts of natural disturbance and the benefits and risks associated with the use of visualization techniques for presenting results to stake holder groups.