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Special Issue "The 24th IUFRO World Congress: Session 118 Providing Ecosystem Services under Climate Change: Community of Practice of Forest Decision Support Systems"

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A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2014)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr Harald Vacik

Institute of Silviculture, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
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Interests: sustainable forest management, decision support systems, biodiversity, silviculture
Co-Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Jose Borges

Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
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Co-Guest Editor
Dr. Jordi Garcia-Gonzalo

Forest Research Centre, School of Agriculture, Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
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Co-Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Ljusk-Ola Eriksson

Department of Forest Resource Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Umea, Sweden
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Special Issue in Forests will provide an overview regarding how Decision Support Systems (DSS) are currently designed and applied for the sustained provision of ecosystem services within the context of climate change. The issue will include overviews on models, methods, techniques, and frameworks. With populations and economies growing worldwide, the demands on forest resources increase, and sustaining the supply of ecosystem services becomes crucial. Through growing public participation in decisions regarding the management of natural resources, new demands have emerged for tools that support our understanding of environmental issues, and for the development and evaluation of alternative management options; there is a desire to project the consequences of different courses of action. Decision Support Systems (DSS) have been proven to solve such ill-structured decision problems by integrating database management systems with analytical and operational research models, thus providing various reporting capabilities. Several case studies will focus on ill-structured decision problems, on the development and evaluation of alternative management options, and on projecting the consequences of different courses of action, so as to support our understanding of environmental issues.

Dr. Harald Vacik
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Keywords

  • decision support systems
  • ecosystem services
  • climate change
  • models
  • tools
  • case studies

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Decision Support for the Provision of Ecosystem Services under Climate Change: An Editorial
Forests 2015, 6(9), 3212-3217; doi:10.3390/f6093212
Received: 8 September 2015 / Accepted: 11 September 2015 / Published: 16 September 2015
PDF Full-text (323 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Special Issue “Providing Ecosystem Services under Climate Change: Community of Practice of Forest Decision Support Systems” is based on the presentations given at the 24th World Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations and provides an overview on Forest Management
[...] Read more.
The Special Issue “Providing Ecosystem Services under Climate Change: Community of Practice of Forest Decision Support Systems” is based on the presentations given at the 24th World Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations and provides an overview on Forest Management Decision Support Systems currently designed and applied for the sustained provision of ecosystem services within the context of climate change. The contributions provide an overview on models, methods, techniques used in decision support and the proposed frameworks to support decision making. With populations and economies growing worldwide, the demands on forest resources increase, and sustaining the supply of ecosystem services becomes crucial. Through growing public participation in decisions regarding the management of natural resources, new demands have emerged for tools that support our understanding of environmental issues, and for the development and evaluation of alternative management options; there is a desire to project the consequences of different courses of action. Decision Support Systems (DSS) have been proven to solve such ill-structured decision problems by integrating database management systems with analytical and operational research models, thus providing various reporting capabilities. Several case studies focus on decision problems, the development and evaluation of alternative management options, and on projecting the consequences of different courses of action in the provision of ecosystem services. Conclusions on the state-of-the-art in decision support and the needed advances in research are drawn. Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle The Use of Decision Support Systems in Forest Management: Analysis of FORSYS Country Reports
Forests 2016, 7(3), 72; doi:10.3390/f7030072
Received: 12 January 2016 / Revised: 1 March 2016 / Accepted: 10 March 2016 / Published: 21 March 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1634 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
From 2009 to 2013, a group of more than 100 researchers from 26 countries, under a COST-Action project named FORSYS, worked on a review of the use of forest management decision support systems (FMDSS). Guided by a template, local researchers conducted assessments of
[...] Read more.
From 2009 to 2013, a group of more than 100 researchers from 26 countries, under a COST-Action project named FORSYS, worked on a review of the use of forest management decision support systems (FMDSS). Guided by a template, local researchers conducted assessments of FMDSS use in their countries; their results were documented in Country Reports. In this study, we have used the Country Reports to construct a summary of FMDSS use. For the purposes of our analysis, we conducted a two-round categorisation of the main themes to describe the most relevant aspects of FMDSS use. The material produced was used to generate quantitative summaries of (i) the types of problem where FMDSS are used, (ii) models and methods used to solve these problems, (iii) knowledge management techniques, and (iv) participatory planning techniques. Beyond this, a qualitative analysis identified and summarised the local researchers’ primary concerns, recorded in the conclusions to the Country Reports; we designated these “lessons learned”. Results from the quantitative analysis suggested that most of the participant countries were making use of latest generation FMDSS. A few did not have practical problems that justified the use of such technology or they were still at the beginning of the process of building models to solve their own forest problems. Full article
Open AccessArticle How Sensitive Are Ecosystem Services in European Forest Landscapes to Silvicultural Treatment?
Forests 2015, 6(5), 1666-1695; doi:10.3390/f6051666
Received: 8 January 2015 / Revised: 17 April 2015 / Accepted: 21 April 2015 / Published: 13 May 2015
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (35756 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
While sustainable forestry in Europe is characterized by the provision of a multitude of forest ecosystem services, there exists no comprehensive study that scrutinizes their sensitivity to forest management on a pan-European scale, so far. We compile scenario runs from regionally tailored forest
[...] Read more.
While sustainable forestry in Europe is characterized by the provision of a multitude of forest ecosystem services, there exists no comprehensive study that scrutinizes their sensitivity to forest management on a pan-European scale, so far. We compile scenario runs from regionally tailored forest growth models and Decision Support Systems (DSS) from 20 case studies throughout Europe and analyze whether the ecosystem service provision depends on management intensity and other co-variables, comprising regional affiliation, social environment, and tree species composition. The simulation runs provide information about the case-specifically most important ecosystem services in terms of appropriate indicators. We found a strong positive correlation between management intensity and wood production, but only weak correlation with protective and socioeconomic forest functions. Interestingly, depending on the forest region, we found that biodiversity can react in both ways, positively and negatively, to increased management intensity. Thus, it may be in tradeoff or in synergy with wood production and forest resource maintenance. The covariables species composition and social environment are of punctual interest only, while the affiliation to a certain region often makes an important difference in terms of an ecosystem service’s treatment sensitivity. Full article
Open AccessArticle Assisting Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Policy Planning with the Sim4Tree Decision Support System
Forests 2015, 6(4), 859-878; doi:10.3390/f6040859
Received: 4 February 2015 / Accepted: 12 March 2015 / Published: 24 March 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (622 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
As European forest policy increasingly focuses on multiple ecosystem services and participatory decision making, forest managers and policy planners have a need for integrated, user-friendly, broad spectrum decision support systems (DSS) that address risks and uncertainties, such as climate change, in a robust
[...] Read more.
As European forest policy increasingly focuses on multiple ecosystem services and participatory decision making, forest managers and policy planners have a need for integrated, user-friendly, broad spectrum decision support systems (DSS) that address risks and uncertainties, such as climate change, in a robust way and that provide credible advice in a transparent manner, enabling effective stakeholder involvement. The Sim4Tree DSS has been accordingly developed as a user-oriented, modular and multipurpose toolbox. Sim4Tree supports strategic and tactical forestry planning by providing simulations of forest development, ecosystem services potential and economic performance through time, from a regional to a stand scale, under various management and climate regimes. Sim4Tree allows comparing the performance of different scenarios with regard to diverse criteria so as to optimize management choices. This paper explains the concept, characteristics, functionalities, components and use of the current Sim4Tree DSS v2.5, which was parameterized for the region of Flanders, Belgium, but can be flexibly adapted to allow a broader use. When considering the current challenges for forestry DSS, an effort has been made towards the participatory component and towards integration, while the lack of robustness remains Sim4Tree’s weakest point. However, its structural flexibility allows many possibilities for future improvement and extension. Full article
Open AccessArticle Harvest Regulation for Multi-Resource Management, Old and New Approaches (Old and New)
Forests 2015, 6(3), 670-691; doi:10.3390/f6030670
Received: 11 November 2014 / Revised: 18 February 2015 / Accepted: 28 February 2015 / Published: 9 March 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (521 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Current Mexican forest management is the product of a history that dates back to 1926. Earlier approaches were directly or indirectly aimed at attaining the normal forest model. Around 1980, multi-resource and environmental impact considerations were mandated for all private timber operations. Timber-oriented
[...] Read more.
Current Mexican forest management is the product of a history that dates back to 1926. Earlier approaches were directly or indirectly aimed at attaining the normal forest model. Around 1980, multi-resource and environmental impact considerations were mandated for all private timber operations. Timber-oriented silviculture was deemed insufficient to take proper care of non-timber values in the forest. Concerns about water quality, biodiversity, and natural conservation were the motives for promoting voluntary best management practices, in 2012 and afterwards. In this research, two traditional Mexican forest management schemes, Sicodesi and Plan Costa, enhanced with best management practices, are compared to Mapa, a management method specifically designed to manage landscape attributes. Results from two successive forest inventories 10 and 13 years apart show that Sicodesi and Plan Costa, even when modified to comply with best management practices, failed to maintain proper stewardship of non-timber values. Mapa, however, employed multiple means to drive forest dynamics to fulfill multi-resource objectives, constrained by self-financing and competitive profitability. These capabilities in Mapa enabled some degree of control over non-timber values, but many more important processes occur beyond the property boundary, and beyond the planning scope considered in Mapa and all other forest planning methods. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Cross-Sectoral Resource Management: How Forest Management Alternatives Affect the Provision of Biomass and Other Ecosystem Services
Forests 2015, 6(3), 533-560; doi:10.3390/f6030533
Received: 30 October 2014 / Revised: 11 February 2015 / Accepted: 12 February 2015 / Published: 18 February 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (2941 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Integrated forest management is faced with the challenge that the contribution of forests to economic and ecological planning targets must be assessed in a socio-ecological system context. This paper introduces a way to model spatio-temporal dynamics of biomass production at a regional scale
[...] Read more.
Integrated forest management is faced with the challenge that the contribution of forests to economic and ecological planning targets must be assessed in a socio-ecological system context. This paper introduces a way to model spatio-temporal dynamics of biomass production at a regional scale in order to derive land use strategies that enhance biomass provision and avoid trade-offs for other ecosystem services. The software platform GISCAME was employed to bridge the gap between local land management decisions and regional planning by linking growth and yield models with an integrative mesoscale modeling and assessment approach. The model region is located in Saxony, Germany. Five scenarios were simulated, which aimed at testing different alternatives for adapted land use in the context of climate change and increasing biomass demand. The results showed, for example, that forest conversion towards climate-change-adapted forest types had positive effects on ecological integrity and landscape aesthetics. In contrast, negative impacts on landscape aesthetics must be expected if agricultural sites were converted into short rotation coppices. Uncertainties with stem from assumptions regarding growth and yield models were discussed. Future developmental steps which consider, for example, accessibility of the resources were identified. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Behavioral Modelling in a Decision Support System
Forests 2015, 6(2), 311-327; doi:10.3390/f6020311
Received: 15 December 2014 / Revised: 13 January 2015 / Accepted: 22 January 2015 / Published: 2 February 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (661 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Considering the variety of attitudes, objectives and behaviors characterizing forest owners is crucial for accurately assessing the impact of policy and market drivers on forest resources. A serious shortcoming of existing pan-European Decision Support Systems (DSS) is that they do not account for
[...] Read more.
Considering the variety of attitudes, objectives and behaviors characterizing forest owners is crucial for accurately assessing the impact of policy and market drivers on forest resources. A serious shortcoming of existing pan-European Decision Support Systems (DSS) is that they do not account for such heterogeneity, consequently disregarding the effects that this might have on timber supply and forest development. Linking a behavioral harvesting decision model—Expected Value Asymmetries (EVA)—to a forest resource dynamics model—European Forestry Dynamics Model (EFDM)—we provide an example of how forest owner specific characterization can be integrated in a DSS. The simulation results indicate that the approach holds promise as regards accounting for forest owner behavior in simulations of forest resources development. Hence, forest owner heterogeneity makes the distribution of forestland on owner types non-trivial, as it affects harvesting intensity and, subsequently, inter-temporal forest development. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Forest Planning Approach with Respect to the Creation of Overmature Reserved Areas in Managed Forests
Forests 2015, 6(2), 328-343; doi:10.3390/f6020328
Received: 29 October 2014 / Revised: 16 January 2015 / Accepted: 23 January 2015 / Published: 2 February 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (750 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Forest harvest planning to maximize economic benefits also has to consider additional criteria such as the biodiversity functioning of the managed forest. The biodiversity requirements are determined by the size, shape, and distribution of harvest units and forest stands. A multiple criteria approach
[...] Read more.
Forest harvest planning to maximize economic benefits also has to consider additional criteria such as the biodiversity functioning of the managed forest. The biodiversity requirements are determined by the size, shape, and distribution of harvest units and forest stands. A multiple criteria approach is presented where the harvesting volume is maximized while the environmental aspects are also considered. Multiple criteria programming and integer programming techniques are used to find an optimal program of forest harvesting with respect to both economic and environmental requirements. The practicality of the model is shown in a case study for one particular forest management unit. Different optimal solutions are calculated depending on changes made to the criteria weights. This model includes strict spatial constraints, multiple objective functions with three objectives, and alternative solutions according to the real manager’s priority. The results show that the spatial pattern and other spatial demands affect the harvest possibilities. It was confirmed that a compromise solution from both forest management and nature conservation could be achieved using the presented harvest scheduling approach. Full article
Open AccessArticle Decision Support Systems (DSS) Optimal—A Case Study from the Czech Republic
Forests 2015, 6(1), 163-182; doi:10.3390/f6010163
Received: 7 November 2014 / Accepted: 24 December 2014 / Published: 8 January 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (980 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Forest managers have traditionally planned harvests using their expert knowledge. This applies mainly to the spatial distribution of harvest units. The amount of timber to be harvested is regulated by market demand. In addition to forest managers’ expert knowledge, there is a set
[...] Read more.
Forest managers have traditionally planned harvests using their expert knowledge. This applies mainly to the spatial distribution of harvest units. The amount of timber to be harvested is regulated by market demand. In addition to forest managers’ expert knowledge, there is a set of rules, which can be automatized. Computerized harvest planning will lead not only to saving time of forest managers, but it will also enable them to explore various scenarios in a matter of minutes. We introduce Optimal—GIS tool for spatial and temporal decisions of harvest scheduling. Optimal allows creating new harvest units, which reflects the forestry act and/or forest managers’ requirements. Optimal includes necessary tools for automatic controlling of harvest unit parameters. It allows alternative harvest scheduling, while taking into account different constraints. Optimal is a decision Support System designed and applied for clear-cut and shelterwood silvicultural systems with respect to the environmental and economic constraints. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Decision Support System for Assessing Trade-Offs between Ecosystem Management Goals: An Application in Portugal
Forests 2015, 6(1), 65-87; doi:10.3390/f6010065
Received: 14 October 2014 / Accepted: 19 December 2014 / Published: 30 December 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1652 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cork oak (Quercus suber L.) and holm oak (Quercus rotundifolia) ecosystems are characteristic of Mediterranean forestry in Portugal. Even though cork is the most valuable product, these ecosystems provide multiple products and services. Assessing trade-offs between multiple goals is thus
[...] Read more.
Cork oak (Quercus suber L.) and holm oak (Quercus rotundifolia) ecosystems are characteristic of Mediterranean forestry in Portugal. Even though cork is the most valuable product, these ecosystems provide multiple products and services. Assessing trade-offs between multiple goals is thus critical for the effectiveness of oak ecosystem management planning. This paper focuses on the development of a decision support system for oak ecosystems’ scenario analysis including multiple criteria. It includes an innovative decision support systems (DSS) functionality to assess trade-offs between the criteria that may support negotiation and consensus building between decision-makers and forest stakeholders. Specifically, a module that encapsulates the Feasible Goals Method/Interactive Decision Maps (FGM/IDM) technique is developed for interactive visualization of the Pareto frontier. The Pareto frontier illustrates the degree to which improving one particular criterion requires accepting sacrifices in the achievements of others. It thus provides information about trade-offs between competing decision-makers’ preferences. Results are discussed for a large-scale application encompassing over 1 million ha of cork and holm oak forest ecosystems in Southern Portugal. This study demonstrates the potential of the new DSS functionality to enhance multi-objective forest planning, namely by facilitating participation by stakeholders and providing transparency to the decision-making processes. Full article
Open AccessArticle Design Features behind Success of the Ecosystem Management Decision Support System and Future Development
Forests 2015, 6(1), 27-46; doi:10.3390/f6010027
Received: 29 October 2014 / Accepted: 19 December 2014 / Published: 26 December 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2629 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Ecosystem Management Decision Support (EMDS) system is an application framework for designing and implementing spatially enabled knowledge-based decision support systems for environmental analysis and planning at any geographic scale(s). The system integrates state-of-the-art geographic information system, as well as knowledge-based reasoning and
[...] Read more.
The Ecosystem Management Decision Support (EMDS) system is an application framework for designing and implementing spatially enabled knowledge-based decision support systems for environmental analysis and planning at any geographic scale(s). The system integrates state-of-the-art geographic information system, as well as knowledge-based reasoning and decision modeling, technologies to provide decision support for the adaptive management process of ecosystem management. It integrates a logic engine to perform landscape evaluations, and a decision engine for developing management priorities. The logic component: (1) reasons about large, abstract, multi-faceted ecosystem management problems; (2) performs useful evaluations with incomplete information; (3) evaluates the influence of missing information, and (4) determines priorities for missing information. The planning component determines priorities for management activities, taking into account not only ecosystem condition, but also criteria that account for logistical concerns of potential management actions. Both components include intuitive diagnostic features that facilitate communicating modeling results to a broad audience. Features of the system design that have figured in its success over the past 20 years are highlighted, together with design features planned for the next several versions needed to provide spatial decision support for adaptive management under climate change. Full article
Open AccessArticle Participatory Goal Programming in Forest Management: An Application Integrating Several Ecosystem Services
Forests 2014, 5(12), 3352-3371; doi:10.3390/f5123352
Received: 10 October 2014 / Revised: 16 December 2014 / Accepted: 16 December 2014 / Published: 22 December 2014
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (665 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, we propose a procedure for integrating several ecosystem services into forest management by using the well-known multi-criteria approach called goal programming. It shows how interactions with various stakeholders are essential in order to choose the goal programming model applied, as
[...] Read more.
In this study, we propose a procedure for integrating several ecosystem services into forest management by using the well-known multi-criteria approach called goal programming. It shows how interactions with various stakeholders are essential in order to choose the goal programming model applied, as well as some of its basic components (variant, targets, preferential weights, etc.). This methodology has been applied to a real forest management case where five criteria have been selected: timber production, wild edible mushroom production, carbon sequestration, net present value of the underlying investment, and a criterion associated with the sustainability of forest management defined by the idea of a normal forest. Given the characteristics of some of these criteria, such as mushroom production, the model has been developed in two scenarios: one deterministic and another with a Monte Carlo analysis. The results show a considerable degree of conflict between the proposed criteria. By applying several goal programming models, different Paretian efficient solutions were obtained. In addition, some results in Monte Carlo analysis for several criteria show notable variations. This fact is especially notable for the mushroom production criterion. Finally, the proposed approach seems attractive and can be directly applied to other forest management situations. Full article
Open AccessArticle Comparison of Three Ideal Point-Based Multi-Criteria Decision Methods for Afforestation Planning
Forests 2014, 5(12), 3222-3240; doi:10.3390/f5123222
Received: 3 November 2014 / Revised: 2 December 2014 / Accepted: 5 December 2014 / Published: 15 December 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (4859 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Three ideal point-based multi-criteria decision methods (MCDM), i.e., iterative ideal point thresholding (IIPT), compromise programming (CP) and a newly-proposed CP variant, called balanced compromise programming (BCP), were applied to the Tabacay catchment in Ecuador with the aim of finding a distribution of land
[...] Read more.
Three ideal point-based multi-criteria decision methods (MCDM), i.e., iterative ideal point thresholding (IIPT), compromise programming (CP) and a newly-proposed CP variant, called balanced compromise programming (BCP), were applied to the Tabacay catchment in Ecuador with the aim of finding a distribution of land use types (LUT) that optimizes regional land performance. This performance was expressed in terms of several conflicting on-site ecosystem services (ESS), namely water conservation, soil protection, carbon storage and monetary income. IIPT selects the best performing LUT on a per-land unit basis, that is the assignment of a LUT to a land unit is completely independent with respect to other land units. CP and BCP, on the other hand, aim at optimizing the integrated regional performance. These methods produce a LUT distribution that is as close as possible to the absolute optimal performance that would be achieved when conflict among ESS is not considered. In general, similar results were obtained with CP and BCP. This was not the case when the results produced by these two methods were contrasted with IIPT. For most ESS under consideration, CP and BCP produced balanced results that were closer to the absolute optimal values when compared to IIPT. We conclude from our results that, when optimization of land performance at a regional scale is at stake, CP-derived models emerge as the preferable option over IIPT, especially when balanced solutions are a requirement. Full article

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