1999 Progress Report: 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: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: October 1, 1998 through December 31, 2000 (Extended to December 31, 2001)
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 1998 through December 31, 1999
Project Amount: $131,089
RFA: Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (1998) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Economics and Decision Sciences
Objective:The proposed research will combine biological models of wildlife population dynamics and 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 on a small but growing body of research that attempts to demonstrate tradeoffs between conservation and financial land use objectives.
Progress Summary:A preliminary model identifies the production relationship between total timber harvest over a 100-year time horizon and likelihood of persistence for a hypothetical species as predicted by the PATCH population simulation model on a 62,500 hectare subset of the 1.2 million hectare study area in the Western Cascade region of Oregon. The hypothetical species modeled is characterized by long life and low fecundity, with a preference for older coniferous forests. A simulated annealing heuristic algorithm was employed to maximize the likelihood of persistence subject to a range of total timber harvest targets. The optimization employed an index based on a correlation between landscape metrics in each period and PATCH simulation results, with a penalty for squared deviations below a high survival population threshold. The resulting production possibility relationship provides estimates of the opportunity cost of achieving specific levels of certainty of population persistence on the landscape in terms of volume of timber harvest forgone.
Future Activities:Future model development will include:
- Simulating an additional hypothetical species that differs from the current species in body size, lifespan, fecundity, habitat preference, and dispersal characteristics. This will allow the investigation of tradeoffs between species with different habitat needs and the incorporation of a spatial component into the analysis and the solution algorithm that is lacking in the preliminary analysis.
- Solving for a larger landscape. This will make the methods we use more widely useful, as land managers and forest policymakers come to rely on landscape-level assessments of the impacts of forest management activities. It also will allow for a more sophisticated representation of economic impacts of constraining timber harvest levels.
- Adding a financial assessment of the opportunity cost of constraining timber harvest levels.
- Simulating one likely forest management scenario for the study area using predictions from the Oregon Department of Forestry's "Oregon Forest Assessment" study that recognize differing landowner objectives and regulatory constraints. The model under development traces out the production possibilities for species persistence and timber harvest for the study area in the absence of institutional or regulatory constraints. This simulation will demonstrate the usefulness of the model for assessing efficiency loss associated with such constraints (i.e., the difference between the potential and the realized outcomes).