Forest age structure as indicator of boreal forest sustainability under alternative management and fire regimes: a landscape level sensitivity analysis

M.P. Didion, M.J. Fortin, A. Fall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Effective forest ecosystem-based management requires a thorough understanding of the interactions between anthropogenic and natural disturbance processes over larger spatial and temporal scales than stands and rotation ages. Because harvesting does not preclude fire, it is important to evaluate the combined effects of harvesting and fire on forest age structure, a coarse indicator of forest ecosystem state. We performed a sensitivity analysis of landscape scale effects of forest management (strategy, harvest rate and access cost) and fire regime (fire return interval and extent) in terms of combined impacts on forest stand age-class structure on a study area of 3.5 million hectares of boreal forest of Québec. A series of scenarios were simulated over 500 years and replicated 30 times using a previously reported spatially explicit landscape model. Within the parameter space of our sensitivity analysis, we found that harvest rate, fire return interval and management strategy were the most significant parameters affecting stand age-class distribution across the landscape. The former are not so surprising, given that they combine to produce an overall disturbance rate, but the latter shows that the resulting impact on age-class structure can be influenced to some degree through management objectives. A harvesting strategy of clearcutting for sustained timber supply, using a harvest rotation based on minimum merchantable age (approximately 100 years in this analysis), creates a trend for the stand age-class distribution away from the expected range of natural variation for the study area. Within the scope of our simulations, alternative management strategies with extended harvest rotation age proved the most robust forest management practice to absorb variations in fire regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-48
JournalEcological Modelling
Volume200
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Fingerprint

age structure
boreal forest
sensitivity analysis
sustainability
age class
forest ecosystem
forest management
disturbance
scale effect
clearcutting
indicator
timber
management practice
harvest
cost
simulation
rate
parameter
distribution

Keywords

  • ecosystem management
  • silvicultural systems
  • spatially explicit
  • old-growth
  • disturbance
  • dynamics
  • simulation
  • stand
  • consequences
  • succession

Cite this

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abstract = "Effective forest ecosystem-based management requires a thorough understanding of the interactions between anthropogenic and natural disturbance processes over larger spatial and temporal scales than stands and rotation ages. Because harvesting does not preclude fire, it is important to evaluate the combined effects of harvesting and fire on forest age structure, a coarse indicator of forest ecosystem state. We performed a sensitivity analysis of landscape scale effects of forest management (strategy, harvest rate and access cost) and fire regime (fire return interval and extent) in terms of combined impacts on forest stand age-class structure on a study area of 3.5 million hectares of boreal forest of Qu{\'e}bec. A series of scenarios were simulated over 500 years and replicated 30 times using a previously reported spatially explicit landscape model. Within the parameter space of our sensitivity analysis, we found that harvest rate, fire return interval and management strategy were the most significant parameters affecting stand age-class distribution across the landscape. The former are not so surprising, given that they combine to produce an overall disturbance rate, but the latter shows that the resulting impact on age-class structure can be influenced to some degree through management objectives. A harvesting strategy of clearcutting for sustained timber supply, using a harvest rotation based on minimum merchantable age (approximately 100 years in this analysis), creates a trend for the stand age-class distribution away from the expected range of natural variation for the study area. Within the scope of our simulations, alternative management strategies with extended harvest rotation age proved the most robust forest management practice to absorb variations in fire regime.",
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Forest age structure as indicator of boreal forest sustainability under alternative management and fire regimes: a landscape level sensitivity analysis. / Didion, M.P.; Fortin, M.J.; Fall, A.

In: Ecological Modelling, Vol. 200, No. 1-2, 2007, p. 45-48.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Forest age structure as indicator of boreal forest sustainability under alternative management and fire regimes: a landscape level sensitivity analysis

AU - Didion, M.P.

AU - Fortin, M.J.

AU - Fall, A.

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N2 - Effective forest ecosystem-based management requires a thorough understanding of the interactions between anthropogenic and natural disturbance processes over larger spatial and temporal scales than stands and rotation ages. Because harvesting does not preclude fire, it is important to evaluate the combined effects of harvesting and fire on forest age structure, a coarse indicator of forest ecosystem state. We performed a sensitivity analysis of landscape scale effects of forest management (strategy, harvest rate and access cost) and fire regime (fire return interval and extent) in terms of combined impacts on forest stand age-class structure on a study area of 3.5 million hectares of boreal forest of Québec. A series of scenarios were simulated over 500 years and replicated 30 times using a previously reported spatially explicit landscape model. Within the parameter space of our sensitivity analysis, we found that harvest rate, fire return interval and management strategy were the most significant parameters affecting stand age-class distribution across the landscape. The former are not so surprising, given that they combine to produce an overall disturbance rate, but the latter shows that the resulting impact on age-class structure can be influenced to some degree through management objectives. A harvesting strategy of clearcutting for sustained timber supply, using a harvest rotation based on minimum merchantable age (approximately 100 years in this analysis), creates a trend for the stand age-class distribution away from the expected range of natural variation for the study area. Within the scope of our simulations, alternative management strategies with extended harvest rotation age proved the most robust forest management practice to absorb variations in fire regime.

AB - Effective forest ecosystem-based management requires a thorough understanding of the interactions between anthropogenic and natural disturbance processes over larger spatial and temporal scales than stands and rotation ages. Because harvesting does not preclude fire, it is important to evaluate the combined effects of harvesting and fire on forest age structure, a coarse indicator of forest ecosystem state. We performed a sensitivity analysis of landscape scale effects of forest management (strategy, harvest rate and access cost) and fire regime (fire return interval and extent) in terms of combined impacts on forest stand age-class structure on a study area of 3.5 million hectares of boreal forest of Québec. A series of scenarios were simulated over 500 years and replicated 30 times using a previously reported spatially explicit landscape model. Within the parameter space of our sensitivity analysis, we found that harvest rate, fire return interval and management strategy were the most significant parameters affecting stand age-class distribution across the landscape. The former are not so surprising, given that they combine to produce an overall disturbance rate, but the latter shows that the resulting impact on age-class structure can be influenced to some degree through management objectives. A harvesting strategy of clearcutting for sustained timber supply, using a harvest rotation based on minimum merchantable age (approximately 100 years in this analysis), creates a trend for the stand age-class distribution away from the expected range of natural variation for the study area. Within the scope of our simulations, alternative management strategies with extended harvest rotation age proved the most robust forest management practice to absorb variations in fire regime.

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KW - consequences

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JF - Ecological Modelling

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