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New software for a multiple-use oriented forest management

The Heureka Forestry Decision Support System (DSS) is a suite of freely available softwares developed and hosted by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). The system covers the whole decision support process from data inventory to tools for selecting among plan alternatives with multi-criteria decision making techniques.

The vision is that the system should contribute to a more profitable and environmentally friendly forestry. The utilities handled by the system is timber production, recreation values, bilogical diversity, and carbon storage. By including these in the same system, a holistic approach to forestry planning is made possible.

The system is designed so that it will be relatively easy to add new functionality as new research results and models become available.

The system covers the entire analytical chain, from forest inventory plots, through predictive modeling and optimization, to tools to rank alternatives. The system consists of the following applications:

  • StandWise: For stand-level analysis, with 2D and 3D visualization. StandWise is an interactive simulator where the user specifies specifies treatmens period by period.
  • PlanWise: For forest-level and landscape planning. Enables the exploration on many different management options and has an inbuilt optimizer for solving problems. Includes a report builder for maps, tables and charts.
  • PlanEval: An application to compare and rank the plans created in PlanWise.
  • RegWise: The impact on the regional level. Hugin's successor.
  • PlanStart: Tool for importing forest data, and prepare for field inventories.
  • Ivent: Field computer application to inventory plots. Communicates with computer caliper, altimeter, GPS, and PosTex, a new instrument to determine tree coordinates.
  • "Heureka Habitat Model": An ArcGIS application that reads data from PlanWise or RegVis, computes which stands are suitable as habitat in each period, and saves it in a format that can be returned to PlanWise and RegWise. Note: This software is not yet released.

Projections

Projections can be made for a large number of variables. These include for example

  • Common variables such as forest growing stock and age
  • Tree species distribution
  • Recreation index
  • Biomass
  • Carbon content of trees and soil
  • Yield (timber, pulpwood and biofuel)

Every variable that can be projected can also be displayed in maps, charts and tables.

Climate

Forecast model can take account of how forests evolve under different climate scenarios.

Nature Conservation

In order to analyze different strategies for conservation adjustment scheme can count on and propose provisions, prescribed ex-forestry, and the provision of retention trees. The results of a conservation strategy can be evaluated with a specific ArcGIS program that calculates the area suitable habitat for a number of selected species (see below).

Optimization

The Plan Wise is a built-in tools for formulating and solving LP and MIP problems (linear programming with or without heltalsvillkor). The system is very flexible and all variables that the system may make projections can be easily inserted into an optimization model. An optimization model is saved in a file, making it easy for users to share and distribute the models. The great flexibility, while the relatively high demands on the user who should have basic knowledge of optimization methods. Has not it may use existing optimization models.

GIS

PlanWise and RegWise has an inbuilt license-free map viewer. Thematic maps is very easy to set up and display, and you can step through the planning period step by step to study how the forest develops over time.

Import of GIS data

Maps can be imported as shape files in PlanStart. You can also import background images, such as orthophotos.

Spatial relationships

The system provides a function to calculate adjacencies (shared border lengths and) between all polygon pairs, and a function to compute all feasible combinations of contiguous polygons that do not violate a user-defined opening size tolerance. The results of these calculations can be used in the optimization model for preventing too large clearings.

Habitat Model

The "Habitat Model" is a standalone GIS program that requires and ArcGIS license to run. It applies a kind of "Moving Window" algorithm which classifies suitable habitat for a species as a function of the state forest. "Habitat Model" can evaluate several plans, several time periods, and several different models in the same run. There are currently models for six species that have been selected as representative for different kind of habitat, and these species have different spatial requirements.

Value for forest owner and decision maker

Examples of benefits and added value that the software can provide for the decision maker (DM):

  • Ability to develop goal-oriented plans that reflect the objectives and requirements of the DM.
  • Ability to compare different plan alternatives and choose the one that best meets the objectives.
  • Long planning horizon (several decades to 100 years or more) allows for longterm considerion of timber production, stocking, and a number of non-economic values.
  • Visualization of individual stands and development of management options provides data for discussions and decision making.
  • Evaluation of various conservation strategies and their cost.
  • Increased return on forest capital.
  • Control of product flows in the short and long term.

Examples of application: How to make a forest management plan with Heureka

The elaboration of a plan for a forest holding consists of the following steps:

  1. Import a list of stand data and optionally a forest map to a Heureka database using import functions in PlanStart.
  2. Create a project in PlanWise.
  3. Defined Forest Domains. A forest domain can be considered as a management group for which similar management prescriptions are given.
  4. Make settings for each forest domain, what kind of management system that should be simulated, etc.
  5. Let the program calculate a number of alternative management schedules for each stands.
  6. Use the built-in optimizer to formulate the objectives and constraints for forestry.
  7. Solve the problem.
  8. Examine the plan in tables, diagrams and maps.
  9. (Presumably) Change the conditions and make further optimizations, so that several alternative plans are obtained.
  10. (Optional) Compare and rank the plans in PlanEval.

Availability and Support

Freely available
The software is free and can be downloaded from the Internet: Download and register
Maintenance
Skogliga hållbarhetsanalyser at SLU is responsible for maintaining the system.
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