Simulating the cumulative effects of multiple forest management strategies on landscape measures of forest sustainability
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While the cumulative effects of the actions of multiple owners have long been recognized as critically relevant to efforts to maintain sustainable forests at the landscape scale, few studies have addressed these effects. We used the HARVEST timber harvest simulator to predict the cumulative effects of four owner groups (two paper companies, a state forest and non-industrial private owners) with different management objectives on landscape pattern in an upper Michigan landscape managed primarily for timber production. We quantified trends in landscape pattern metrics that were linked to Montreal Process indicators of forest sustainability, and used a simple wildlife habitat model to project habitat trends. Our results showed that most trends were considered favorable for forest sustainability, but that some were not. The proportion of all age classes and some forest types moved closer to presettlement conditions. The trend for the size of uneven-aged patches was essentially flat while the average size of patches of the oldest and youngest age classes increased and the size of patches of the remaining age classes decreased. Forest fragmentation generally declined, but edge density of age classes increased. Late seral forest habitat increased while early successional habitat declined. The owners use different management systems that cumulatively produce a diversity of habitats. Our approach provides a tool to evaluate such cumulative effects on other landscapes owned by multiple owners. The approach holds promise for helping landowner groups develop and evaluate cooperative strategies to improve landscape patterns for forest sustainability.
KeywordsTimber management Multiple owner landscapes Landscape pattern HARVEST simulation model Sustainable forestry Biodiversity Forest products industry
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Sue Lietz provided technical support to prepare, conduct and analyze the simulations. Brian Sturtevant and Pat Zollner provided thoughtful insights into the study design. This study was made possible with the collaboration of Charlie Becker (Escanaba Timber LLC), Nick Monkevich and Mike Young (International Paper Co.), Craig Albright, Eric Thompson and Dan McNamee (Michigan Department of Natural Resources), and Al Lucier (National Council for Air and Stream Improvement). The paper was improved by critical reviews by Tom Crow, Tom Spies and two anonymous reviewers. Funding was provided through an Agenda 2020 grant from the North Central Research Station.
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