Technological advancements continue along at a rapid pace, and the practice of forest management has certainly benefitted from those advancements in a variety of ways. From field data collection to data processing to data analysis, FORECON has continued to pursue opportunities to bring the value afforded by these expanding technologies to our clients.
One of the biggest challenges, particularly in the hardwood forests of the eastern United States, is effectively modelling these species-diverse forests given all of the species-specific silvical complexities. Dozens of tree species, each with its own biological characteristics as well as market value, have tested forest managers for years in managing these forests in an efficient, effective and financially beneficial manner.
Growth simulation models have been developed and used with some success, but one of the biggest challenges has been to effectively predict the changes in financial return given the number of different silvicultural options that must be considered due to the wide range of hardwood species that exist. The dynamics of maximizing biological growth coupled with the ever-changing financial parameters that forest managers and their investment clients are faced with create complex situations that have been very difficult to effectively sort out and analyze.
FORECON has developed a system to accommodate the silvical complexities of the hardwood forest, while allowing the flexibility forest managers need when analyzing the financial effects of their decisions. We call this system ForestSim™.
ForestSim™ is a simulation system that models a number of interactive conditions and circumstances within a forest over time (up to 30 years), helping forest managers optimize sound management decisions to maximize financial returns. The underlying platform is a complex Monte Carlo simulation product that has been integrated with two customized interactive models operated through user-friendly dashboards, providing the user with the ability to easily change a variety of parameters and conditions and quickly see their effects on the development of the forest and the bottom line of their investment. Analyses can be done on a stand, tract, stratum or ownership level.
ForestSim™ is driven by forest stand tables which provide the number of trees by species and diameter class. From this information, basal area calculations and the corresponding stand stocking densities are processed providing the underlying growth modelling system (USFS TWIGS) with the necessary information to project growth and mortality over a period of thirty (30) years. Species composition and stand density are just a few of the variables that drive the growth projections. This information is then integrated into the simulation model that provides either probabilistic results (there are multiple outcomes because the inputs have a user defined degree of variability), or deterministic results (there is no variability in inputs) for a variety of circumstances selected by the user.
Whether a harvest simulation is selected or not, ForestSim™ models the changes in the forest based on the user’s parameters, and calculates the impacts on the development of the forest stand and its related net present value. Each run of the model provides a wealth of information in a variety of reports, which are available on the stand, tract, stratum, ownership or year of peak NPV level.