A prototype Forest Treatment Planner integrating the Forest Vegetation Simulator with spatially explicit models
The Forest Treatment Planner was developed to provide forest managers a platform for exploring the potential consequences of different forest management alternatives in both the short and long-term, examine the resource-based trade-offs inherent in any proposed vegetation management action, and clearly substantiate the rationale behind management planning. Originally envisioned as a means to help balance fisher habitat conservation with fuel reduction efforts, the Treatment Planner provides a dynamic link between GIS, the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) modeling software, and any resource model (e.g. habitat, hydrology, fuel, economic) that uses the EEMS (Environmental Evaluation Modeling System) modeling environment. As such, the Treatment Planner is not a model per-se, but a system of communication between existing software that, when used together, can facilitate spatially-explicit comparisons and project refinement. By exporting an FVS output directly into the EEMS modeling environment, this framework allows for a transparent evaluation of the impacts to multiple resource values and a straightforward process for communicating these impacts to stakeholders.
The Treatment Planner supports an iterative process of treatment project simulation, adaptive management, and outcomes analysis, the steps in what we refer to as the "4-Box" decision making framework. The 4-Box model is a conceptual representation of a process designed to help predict future landscape conditions based on simulated management actions and change over time (see Figure). In this process, the forest manager first examines the current conditions of the landscape through the lens of a particular question or management objective (e.g., where is there a need for protection or restoration?). They can then explore the predicted effects of various simulated management alternatives (e.g., thin from above, or thin from below), to see how they would affect the stand structure (e.g., stand density, basal area, and average DBH) over time, both immediately and into the future. Finally, the manager can examine how those new conditions would then affect a particular phenomenon of interest such as, severe fire risk, or wildlife habitat suitability. This process is then repeated under a different set of treatment options (scenarios) to inform the development of an effective management strategy.
Figure 1. The 4-Box model represents a process for evaluating future conditions based on simulated treatments and change over time.
You can check out the detailed steps to use the treatment planner using the document on the file tab. The relevant code for the treatment planner is available at github, click here to download.