Modelling for forest management synergies and trade-offs: Northern hardwood tree regeneration, timber and deer

Journal or Book Title: Ecological Modelling

Keywords: Forestry; Wildlife; Simulation; FVS; Sustainability; Natural resources

Volume/Issue: 248/10 Jan. 2013,

Page Number(s): 103-112

Year Published: 2012


In many managed forests, tree regeneration density and composition following timber harvest are highly variable. This variability is due to multiple environmental drivers – including browsing by herbivores such as deer, seed availability and physical characteristics of forest gaps and stands – many of which can be influenced by forest management. Identifying management actions that produce regeneration abundance and composition appropriate for the long-term sustainability of multiple forest values (e.g., timber, wildlife) is a difficult task. However, this task can be aided by simulation tools that improve understanding and enable evaluation of synergies and trade-offs between management actions for different resources. We present a forest tree regeneration, growth, and harvest simulation model developed with the express purpose of assisting managers to evaluate the impacts of timber and deer management on tree regeneration and forest dynamics in northern hardwood forests over long time periods under different scenarios. The model couples regeneration and deer density sub-models developed from empirical data with the Ontario variant of the US Forest Service individual-based forest growth model, Forest Vegetation Simulator. Our error analyses show that model output is robust given uncertainty in the sub-models. We investigate scenarios for timber and deer management actions in northern hardwood stands for 200 years. Results indicate that higher levels of mature ironwood (Ostrya virginiana) removal and lower deer densities significantly increase sugar maple (Acer saccharum) regeneration success rates. Furthermore, our results show that although deer densities have an immediate and consistent negative impact on forest regeneration and timber through time, the non-removal of mature ironwood trees has cumulative negative impacts due to feedbacks on competition between ironwood and sugar maple. These results demonstrate the utility of the simulation model to managers for examining long-term impacts, synergies and trade-offs of multiple forest management actions.


► We present an integrated simulation model of tree regeneration, growth and harvest. ► We use the model to evaluate long-term impacts of forest management. ► Results show the integrated model is robust given uncertainty in sub-models. ► Greater ironwood harvest and lower deer densities increase sugar maple regeneration. ► We show how the model is useful for synergistic timber and wildlife management.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2012.09.019

Type of Publication: Journal Article