Land and Management with Biological and Economic ObjectivesEPA Grant Number: R826619
Title: Land and Management with Biological and Economic Objectives
Investigators: Montgomery, Claire , Arthur, Jeffrey L. , Polasky, Stephen
Institution: Oregon State University
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: October 1, 1998 through December 31, 2000 (Extended to December 31, 2001)
Project Amount: $131,089
RFA: Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (1998) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Economics and Decision Sciences
The proposed research will combine biological models of wildlife population dynamics and of timber stand growth with a financial evaluation of timber harvest in a unified framework that can be used by land managers to assist in developing effective management decisions. This research will build upon a small but growing body of research that attempts to demonstrate tradeoffs between conservation and financial land use objectives.
Unlike earlier work, this research will trace out production relationships between conservation objectives, specified as viability for members of a small set of species, and timber production objectives. A population simulation model (PATCH) will be used to assess the viability of species. This model uses GIS landscape data and simulates population dynamics over a specified time horizon. It is flexible and parsimonious in its representation of species life history and thus may be used to model multiple species. At least one heuristic search method, most likely a Genetic Algorithm, will be used to search for maximum viability for given timber harvest objectives. By searching for maximum viability for a range of timber harvest objectives, we will identify tradeoffs over the range of possible land management regimes, rather than over a limited set of alternatives. In order to demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of this approach, it will be applied to a specific landscape, the central Cascade Range in western Oregon, for a small set of species that vary in body size, dispersal distance, reproductive output and mortality, and specificity of habitat needs.
When complete, this analysis will generate estimates of tradeoffs between timber production and species survival and between survival likelihoods for species within the set. More generally, it will demonstrate a methodology for combining biological and economic models for analyzing land use problems to provide useful information for forest policy makers. If successful, this methodology will represent an improvement over past efforts -- both conceptually and technically.
Improvements in Risk Assessment or Risk Management: By specifying conservation in terms of viability of species, we recognize that the benefit of conservation is a reduction in risk of extinction. Conservation policy implicitly sets acceptable levels of risk of extinction for species of concern. This research will demonstrate a means by which policy makers may be informed about the risk associated with policy alternatives.