Landscape & Biodiversity Management

Background

Over the last several decades, concerns about biological diversity have led to dramatic changes in forest policy on public lands, harvesting constraints on some private lands, and concomitant impacts on timber supply. Consideration for biological diversity has become an integral component of sustainable forestry certification programs such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI). In many cases, biological diversity is best addressed at the landscape scale. Thus, there is a need for better information about relationships between landscape patterns and processes (e.g., disturbance regimes) and biological patterns and processes (e.g., dispersal), how to cost-effectively manage biological diversity within landscapes (e.g., reserves connected by corridors versus shifting mosaic approach), and the role and contributions to biological diversity made by managed forests in different contexts. Managers also need better planning tools that can maximize net present value while simultaneously considering spatial considerations, including wildlife habitat and water quality objectives.

Goal 

Develop technical information and tools that will help industry manage quality and distribution of wildlife habitats within landscapes, contribute to conservation of biological diversity at different spatial scales, and characterize those contributions.

Examples of Recent or Ongoing Tasks 

  • Habitat and Harvest Planning Model (HABPLAN) – NCASI staff are continuing to develop a user-friendly software system (Habplan, Habgen and Habread) with flexible spatial and generic harvest scheduling capabilities by adding requested features to Habplan such as spatial arrangements of small stands, variable green-up windows, and multiple mill destinations; and enhancing the capability of Habread to convert linear program input matrices into Habplan format.
  • Northwest Landscape Study – The study has been investigating biodiversity potential across forest industry planning areas in the Pacific Northwest based on locally derived “best” statistical models, analyzing spatial patterns of biodiversity in the context of industry objectives, and working with industry to derive biodiversity management guidelines to achieve industry objectives.  
  • Lake States Landscape Studies – The HARVEST simulator is being used to mimic over a long planning horizon the management goals of landowners in a managed forest landscape in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Several types of goals are being compared including pre- and post-Sustainable Forestry Initiative goals, landscape metrics are being compared to Montreal Indicators, and economic and wildlife habitat values are being computed. 
  • Southern Landscape Ecology and Modeling  – This study has been investigating relationships between habitat attributes and biological diversity (as represented by bird and herpetofaunal communities) using data from four studies that were conducted within commercial forest landscapes in the southeastern United States (AR, WV, and two in SC).  
  • West Virginia Landscape Study – This study is monitoring habitat use and post-fledging habitat use and movements of birds within the context of a long-term, replicated, landscape-scale experiment on the MeadWestvaco Wildlife and Ecosystem Research Forest.  
  • Biodiversity Response to Stand Structural Features – NCASI, in cooperation with its member companies, is seeking to implement a study to improve understanding of biodiversity response to retention of various levels of selected stand structural features (e.g., snags, coarse woody debris). The project will help member companies comply with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® Standard (Indicator 4.1.4).  
  • Technical Support on Biodiversity Issues – NCASI staff will monitor agency and ENGO websites and publications (e.g., Federal Register); interact with agency, company, and ENGO staff, and provide technical reviews as appropriate. 
  • Literature Review on Forestry-Biodiversity/Wildlife Relationships – NCASI staff are maintaining an annotated bibliography on forestry-biodiversity/wildlife relationships which is available upon request to NCASI member companies.

More details about these and other tasks can be found elsewhere on the NCASI website. For more information about the NCASI Sustainable Forestry and Eastern Wildlife Program, contact Dr. Ben Wigley at bwigley@ncasi.org.