Emulating Natural Forest Landscape Disturbances

Emulating Natural Forest Landscape Disturbances: Concepts and Applications

AJITH H. PERERA
LISA J. BUSE
MICHAEL G. WEBER
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/pere12916
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  • Book Info
    Emulating Natural Forest Landscape Disturbances
    Book Description:

    What is a natural forest disturbance? How well do we understand natural forest disturbances and how might we emulate them in forest management? What role does emulation play in forest management? Representing a range of geographic perspectives from across Canada and the United States, this book looks at the escalating public debate on the viability of natural disturbance emulation for sustaining forest landscapes from the perspective of policymakers, forestry professionals, academics, and conservationists.

    This book provides a scientific foundation for justifying the use of and a solid framework for examining the ambiguities inherent in emulating natural forest landscape disturbance. It acknowledges the divergent expectations that practitioners face and offers a balanced view of the promises and challenges associated with applying this emerging forest management paradigm.

    The first section examines foundational concepts, addressing questions of what emulation involves and what ecological reasoning substantiates it. These include a broad overview, a detailed review of emerging forest management paradigms and their global context, and an examination of the ecological premise for emulating natural disturbance. This section also explores the current understanding of natural disturbance regimes, including the two most prevalent in North America: fire and insects.

    The second section uses case studies from a wide geographical range to address the characterization of natural disturbances and the development of applied templates for their emulation through forest management. The emphasis on fire regimes in this section reflects the greater focus that has traditionally been placed on understanding and managing fire, compared with other forms of disturbance, and utilizes several viewpoints to address the lessons learned from historical disturbance patterns.

    Reflecting on current thinking in the field, immediate challenges, and potential directions, the final section moves deeper into the issues of practical applications by exploring the expectations for and feasibility of emulating natural disturbance through forest management.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50308-2
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    Ajith H. Perera, Lisa J. Buse and Michael G. Weber
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. I CONCEPTS
    • CHAPTER 1 Emulating Natural Disturbance in Forest Management: An Overview
      (pp. 3-7)
      AJITH H. PERERA and LISA J. BUSE

      Sustainability has been a goal in forest management for several decades. However, as the concept of forest sustainability expanded beyond its original focus (that of sustained timber yield) to include other values such as biodiversity, various paradigms have evolved as possible management approaches (Brooks and Grant 1992; Hunter 1993). Rather than contrasting these approaches, we have chosen in this chapter to focus on one: the use of natural disturbance as a guide for forest management, a paradigm that has grown in popularity over the past decade. Given the elusive nature of the goal of forest sustainability, the emulation of disturbance...

    • CHAPTER 2 Emulating Natural Forest Disturbance: What Does This Mean?
      (pp. 8-28)
      J. P. (HAMISH) KIMMINS

      The world’s population is predicted to increase by 50% (three billion people) in the time required for trees to grow to economic maturity over most of Canada (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis 2001; Lutz et al. 2001). As a result, concerns over the environment are not likely to diminish soon. Many of the global environmental issues of the past four decades, during which the human population doubled from three to six billion, can ultimately be traced to population growth unaccompanied by appropriate changes in per capita resource use, pollution, and the rate and extent of ecosystem alterations. And relief...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Ecological and Genetic Basis for Emulating Natural Disturbance in Forest Management: Theory Guiding Practice
      (pp. 29-42)
      IAN D. THOMPSON and ALTON S. HARESTAD

      Concerns about biodiversity loss, old forests, and ecological processes have given rise to the development of new approaches to forest management. Forests support the majority of terrestrial biodiversity, and wherever timber harvesting is conducted, questions arise about whether these forests can recover the biological diversity that existed prior to logging. There is global concern over the scale at which forestry is practiced and the long-term effects on ecosystems and biodiversity (e.g., Sala et al. 2000). As part of a broad-based response to these concerns, forest management has recently begun a paradigm shift away from sustained yield toward silviculture and planning...

    • CHAPTER 4 Characterizing Natural Forest Disturbance Regimes: Concepts and Approaches
      (pp. 43-54)
      ROGER SUFFLING and AJITH H. PERERA

      A clear understanding of natural disturbance is a prerequisite for emulating natural disturbance within the forest landscape. In addition to adopting an acceptable set of terms and concepts related to disturbance, we must understand how human and the forest’s natural disturbance regimes function. In this chapter, we show that defining natural requires, of necessity, a value-based choice among various possibilities. We also describe the diversity of processes involved in natural disturbance, their complexity, and the intricacy of the interactions among them.

      The array of physical, biotic, and chemical factors involved in the initiation, progress, and cessation of disturbance makes this...

    • CHAPTER 5 Predicting Fire Regimes at Multiple Scales
      (pp. 55-68)
      ROBERT E. KEANE, RUSSELL E. PARSONS and MATHEW G. ROLLINS

      Wildland fire is the primary form of disturbance in many North American ecosystems, where it recycles nutrients, regulates succession by selecting and regenerating plants, maintains diversity, reduces biomass, controls insect and disease populations, triggers and regulates interactions between vegetation and animals, and most importantly, maintains biological and biogeochemical processes (Johnson 1992; Agee 1993; Crutzen and Goldammer 1993; DeBano et al. 1998). Many ecosystems have been so highly influenced by fire that many biota developed adaptations that let them survive fires or disperse into burned areas (Wright and Bailey 1982; Pyne et al. 1996; DeBano et al. 1998). Historical landscapes have...

    • CHAPTER 6 Predicting Forest Insect Disturbance Regimes for Use in Emulating Natural Disturbance
      (pp. 69-82)
      DAVID A. MACLEAN

      Disturbance is both a major source of temporal and spatial heterogeneity in the structure and dynamics of natural communities and an agent of natural selection in the evolution of species (Sousa 1984). The concept of using natural disturbance regimes as a guide for appropriate forest management has received increasing attention over the past two decades (e.g., Pickett and White 1985; Attiwill 1994; Kohm and Franklin 1996; Hunter 1999; Y. Bergeron et al. 1999; Harvey et al. 2002). Information on the historic variability in the magnitude and pattern of natural disturbance can help forest managers to maintain structural and compositional patterns...

  8. II APPLICATIONS:: UNDERSTANDING FOREST DISTURBANCES
    • CHAPTER 7 Empirical Approaches to Modeling Wildland Fire in the Pacific Northwest Region of the United States: Methods and Applications to Landscape Simulation
      (pp. 85-97)
      DONALD MCKENZIE, SUSAN PRICHARD, AMY E. HESSL and DAVID L. PETERSON

      Vegetation dynamics, disturbance (especially fire), and climatic variability are key ingredients in simulations of the future condition of heterogeneous landscapes (Lenihan et al. 1998; Keane et al. 1999; Schmoldt et al. 1999; Dale et al. 2001; He et al. 2002). Spatially explicit models in particular require large amounts of empirical data as inputs, but existing data are rarely adequate. The extent and resolution of the available empirical data are important considerations when simulating vegetation dynamics, because different types of data in a database are often collected at different spatial and temporal scales (McKenzie et al. 1996a; McKenzie 1998). In addition,...

    • CHAPTER 8 Simulating Forest Fire Regimes in the Foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains
      (pp. 98-111)
      CHAO LI

      Forest resources and a healthy level of biodiversity should be sustainable through management practices that emulate natural disturbance (primarily fire). Ontario’s Crown Forest Sustainability Act (Statutes of Ontario 1995) and such research programs as Ecosystem Management by Emulating Natural Disturbance that link harvesting methods with regeneration procedures to promote holistic, ecologically sensitive silviculture (Spence and Volney 1999) reflect this belief. Such a philosophy requires a better understanding of natural fire patterns, and challenges forest managers and researchers because of the relative lack of empirical data on natural disturbance (i.e., disturbance without human intervention). Figure 8.1 shows the conceptual linkages between...

    • CHAPTER 9 Spatial Simulation of Broad-Scale Fire Regimes as a Tool for Emulating Natural Forest Landscape Disturbance
      (pp. 112-122)
      AJITH H. PERERA, DENNIS YEMSHANOV, FRANK SCHNEKENBURGER, DAVID J. B. BALDWIN, DEN BOYCHUK and KEVIN WEAVER

      To emulate natural forest disturbance, forest managers must select appropriate disturbance regimes to emulate, based on the relative significance of such disturbance agents as fire, wind, and insect epidemics in the landscape. This decision also depends on the spatiotemporal scale of the proposed management activities, such as the extent of the unit being managed, the spatial resolution, the planning horizon, and the time interval between planning steps. Next, the forest manager must understand the nature of the disturbance regimes and be able to quantify the regimes to set unambiguous management goals. These steps presume the availability of reliable knowledge about...

    • CHAPTER 10 Simulating the Effects of Forest Fire and Timber Harvesting on the Hardwood Species of Central Missouri
      (pp. 123-134)
      HONG S. HE, STEPHEN R. SHIFLEY, WILLIAM DIJAK and ERIC J. GUSTAFSON

      Most forest managers have a good understanding of the effects of silviculture and disturbance on stand development (e.g., Oliver and Larson 1990; Nyland 2001; Johnson et al. 2002), but understanding the cumulative landscape-scale effects of individual management decisions and of natural disturbance is challenging, due to the broad spatial scales and long time frames involved (Foster et al. 1997; Dale et al. 2001). Nevertheless, individual forest management activities and disturbance events interact with and alter the landscape-scale processes. For example, mean fire-return intervals for Missouri’s Ozark Highlands ranged from 3 to 16 yr during the 1800s and early 1900s (Guyette...

    • CHAPTER 11 Using Insect-Caused Patterns of Disturbance in Northern New Brunswick to Inform Forest Management
      (pp. 135-145)
      KEVIN B. PORTER, BRENDAN HEMENS and DAVID A. MACLEAN

      The move toward ecosystem management that developed in the 1980s and 1990s incorporated a strong focus on the conservation of biodiversity (Grumbine 1994; Salwasser 1994). The natural disturbance paradigm, another developing idea, can be summarized as follows: if disturbances shape the composition and dynamics of vegetation communities (Pickett and White 1985), and the character of vegetation communities defines biodiversity (Huston 1994), then forest management strategies guided by an understanding of natural disturbance processes will maintain forests with attributes that conserve biodiversity (Attiwill 1994). The basic premise behind this paradigm is that the large structural species that dominate the environment shape...

    • CHAPTER 12 Using Criteria Based on the Natural Fire Regime to Evaluate Forest Management in the Oregon Coast Range of the United States
      (pp. 146-157)
      MICHAEL C. WIMBERLY, THOMAS A. SPIES and ETSUKO NONAKA

      Forest landscapes in the Oregon Coast Range have changed considerably since settlers first arrived in the mid-nineteenth century. Clearing of forests for agriculture and development, ignition of extensive forest fires by settlers and loggers, and conversion of natural forests to managed plantations have all contributed to the fragmentation of late-successional forests (Ripple et al. 2000; Wimberly et al. 2000). These rapid and widespread changes have led to concern for populations of native species, particularly those associated with old-growth forests and aquatic habitats. Some threatened or endangered species such as the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina [Merriam]) have been the...

    • CHAPTER 13 Using a Decision Support System to Estimate Departures of Present Forest Landscape Patterns from Historical Reference Conditions: An Example from the Inland Northwest Region of the United States
      (pp. 158-175)
      PAUL F. HESSBURG, KEITH M. REYNOLDS, R. BRION SALTER and MERRICK B. RICHMOND

      Human settlement and management activities have altered the patterns and processes of forest landscapes across the inland northwest region of the United States (Hessburg et al. 2000c; Hessburg and Agee in press). As a consequence, many attributes of current disturbance regimes (e.g., the frequency, duration, severity, and extent of fires) differ markedly from those of historical regimes, and current wildlife species and habitat distributions are inconsistent with their historical distributions. Just as human-caused changes in ecological processes have led to alterations in landscape patterns, changes in patterns have produced alterations in ecosystem processes, and particularly in forest disturbance (Kimmins, chapter...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER 14 Changes in Tree Species Composition from Pre-European Settlement to Present: A Case Study of the Temagami Forest, Ontario
      (pp. 176-188)
      FRED PINTO and STEPHEN ROMANIUK

      Knowledge of pre-European settlement forest conditions is important for providing an ecological basis for forest management plans in North America. Forest managers wishing to implement the forest management paradigm of emulating natural forest disturbance require a descriptive template of their forest that is derived from the natural disturbance regime (Kimmins, chapter 2, this volume). In Ontario, this template is used, for example, to develop mandatory objectives for biodiversity, evaluate restoration strategies, set targets for tree species thought to be changed in abundance relative to a chosen benchmark, and evaluate the effects of past forestry activities on the current abundance of...

  9. III APPLICATIONS:: PERSPECTIVES, PRACTICES, AND POLICY
    • CHAPTER 15 A Conservation Perspective on Emulating Natural Disturbance in the Management of Boreal Forests in Ontario
      (pp. 191-199)
      DAVID L. EULER, CHRIS HENSCHEL and TOM CLARK

      From the perspective of conservation, the most important goal of forest management should be to conserve biodiversity. Conserving biodiversity does not mean that the manager tries to increase the diversity of plants and animals in the forest, nor does it mean that the status quo is always maintained. Rather, management planners should try to understand the diversity and natural changes that occur in an unmanaged forest, and use management techniques that keep the forest’s diversity within the range of values (boundaries) that would occur in the absence of anthropogenic intervention. In this chapter, we consider the concept of emulating natural...

    • CHAPTER 16 Consequences of Emulating Natural Forest Disturbance: A Canadian Forest Industry Perspective
      (pp. 200-208)
      DARYLL HEBERT

      The increasing emphasis on sustainable forest management appears to be in direct conflict with the decades of sustained yield management practiced across Canada. The former emphasizes sustaining all values provided by the forest, whether or not they have economic value, whereas the latter emphasizes mainly the production of economic value in the form of timber. Of the many possible approaches for implementing sustainable forest management, one that is currently receiving much attention is that of emulating natural forest disturbance. As resource managers attempt to incorporate natural disturbance as the basis for maintaining ecological function, they appear to be struggling with...

    • CHAPTER 17 An Economic Perspective on Emulation Forestry and a Case Study on Woodland Caribou–Wood Production Trade-Offs in Northern Ontario
      (pp. 209-218)
      DANIEL MCKENNEY, AL MUSSELL and GLENN FOX

      The pursuit and practice of forestry based on the emulation of natural disturbance is of growing interest to resource managers. This approach to forestry attempts to manage commercial wood harvests in a manner that mimics natural disturbance processes (see Perera and Buse, chapter 1, this volume). However, considerable controversy remains over the ecological effectiveness of such approaches (e.g., McRae et al. 2001; Thompson and Harestad, chapter 3, this volume).

      Notwithstanding these debates, there are also economic implications that should be considered. This chapter begins with a review of some basic principles of forest economics that are relevant to the economics...

    • CHAPTER 18 Developing Forest Management Strategies Based on Fire Regimes in Northwestern Quebec
      (pp. 219-229)
      SYLVIE GAUTHIER, THUY NGUYEN, YVES BERGERON, ALAIN LEDUC, PIERRE DRAPEAU and PIERRE GRONDIN

      In the boreal forest, fire is the main natural disturbance that initiates succession and creates a mosaic of forest stands of different ages and compositions, in conjunction with the physical configuration of landscapes (Johnson 1992; Gauthier et al. 1996). Until recently, it was generally assumed that the North American boreal forest was characterized by short fire cycles (the time needed to burn a total area equivalent to the size of the study area), resulting in forest mosaics composed of even-aged stands (Heinselman 1981; Johnson 1992). This generalization has often been used to justify forest management based on clearcutting and short...

    • CHAPTER 19 Emulating Natural Forest Disturbance: Applications for Silvicultural Systems in the Northern Great Lakes Region of the United States
      (pp. 230-242)
      JOHN C. ZASADA, BRIAN J. PALIK, THOMAS R. CROW and DANIEL W. GILMORE

      The forests of the northern Great Lakes area of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan (figure 19.1) are a valuable resource for residents of the region and visitors who benefit from the products and services provided by these forests. The forests were heavily exploited in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As a result of this disturbance and subsequent forest use, there is little similarity between pre-European settlement forests and the present forest. In many ways, the forest ecosystems of the region are still recovering from historical severe exploitation.

      The many sources of natural forest disturbance prior to European settlement of the...

    • CHAPTER 20 Emulating Natural Forest Disturbance in the Wildland–Urban Interface of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of the United States
      (pp. 243-250)
      WILLIAM H. ROMME, MONICA G. TURNER, DANIEL B. TINKER and DENNIS H. KNIGHT

      The Greater Yellowstone ecosystem encompasses Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, plus adjacent national forests, other public lands, and extensive tracts of private lands in the American states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho (figure 20.1). The area is dominated by high, mountainous terrain, but also includes several lower elevation river valleys and portions of the plains surrounding the mountains (Hansen et al. 2002). Although the ecosystem contains one of the largest tracts of wild country in the continental United States, it also has one of the country’s fastest growing human populations and economies (Riebesame et al. 1997; Rasker and Hansen...

    • CHAPTER 21 Emulating Natural Forest Disturbance: From Policy to Practical Guidance in Ontario
      (pp. 251-262)
      JOHN G. MCNICOL and JAMES A. BAKER

      The concept of basing resource management on knowledge about natural ecosystem processes has existed since at least the 1960s (Landres et al. 1999). Natural processes that influence trees and stand-level forest composition and growth had traditionally been incorporated into silvicultural treatments to regenerate and grow new forests. By the 1990s, this consideration for natural processes was being extended in North America to include broad-scale landscape dynamics caused by fire and insects (Holling and Meffe 1996). A consequence of this new concept was the recognition that landscape patterns and processes driven by fire and insects would have to become an integral...

  10. IV CONCLUSION
    • CHAPTER 22 Emulating Natural Forest Landscape Disturbances: A Synthesis
      (pp. 265-274)
      AJITH H. PERERA, LISA J. BUSE, MICHAEL G. WEBER and THOMAS R. CROW

      In this chapter, we present a synthesis of the state of knowledge about emulating natural disturbance in northern North America and provide a view of the future of this forest management approach. We summarize the information presented in the other chapters of this book to describe what natural disturbance emulation is, why one might do it, methods of understanding natural disturbance, and practical approaches to implementing this concept. In addition, we present the status of emulating natural disturbance from the perspective of forest practitioners and stakeholders, and describe the general challenges they face in doing so. Finally, we highlight future...

  11. REFERENCES
    (pp. 275-310)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 311-315)