Date of this Version
Ecological Modelling 229 (2012) 50– 63; doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.08.014
Public forest management requires consideration of numerous objectives including protecting ecosystem health, sustaining habitats for native communities, providing sustainable forest products, and providing noncommodity ecosystem services. It is difficult to evaluate the long-term, cumulative effects and tradeoffs these and other associated management objectives. To demonstrate the capabilities of techniques suitable to support such evaluations we combined a spatially explicit landscape-scale, succession and disturbance model (LANDIS) with wildlife habitat suitability models and a multi-criteria decisionmaking framework to compare four management alternatives across a 700 km2 area of the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri, USA. We estimated the combined, cumulative effects of tree species succession, fire disturbance, fuel accumulation, fire hazard, wind disturbance and timber harvest on future species composition, age class distribution, timber products, and wildlife habitat suitability for eastern wild turkey and eastern gray squirrel. We applied a structured, multi-criteria, decision-making framework (PROMETHEE) to analyse forest conditions and to derive weighted composite scores for seven criteria applied to each alternative management scenario. The approach provides a systematic, repeatable, transparent, spatially explicit framework for evaluating the long-term, landscape-scale cumulative effects of management alternatives. The methodology does not encompass all the factors that influence decisions about public land management, but it captures many important ones. The underlying models provide a way to test and accumulate knowledge about forest response to succession and disturbance and to use those relationships to support decision making with the best available science.