Forest management in the presence of harvest restrictions around vernal pools: A metaheuristic approach

Gabriela Dobrot, University of Rhode Island


The primary objective of this research is to model the economic opportunity costs of alternative harvest restrictions aimed at conserving and sustaining ecological functions of vernal pools. The simulations performed incorporate a series of economic and ecological factors in order to determine: alternative configurations of canopy cover around the ponds which could produce similar adoption costs, in both a non-spatial and a spatially defined forest structure, optimal harvest schedules when a mix of tree species is being introduced on the studied landscape, as well as the sensitivity of this schedule to different stumpage prices. Methodologically, the results in this study are based on several dynamic optimization simulations performed in MATLAB. The analysis of the first group of simulations indicates the possibility of using tabu search for constrained rotational forestry and allows for comparing various levels of adoption costs as a step in suggesting improved Best Management Practices guidelines, which will minimize economic opportunity costs while maintaining conservation of amphibian populations. The results of the second series of simulations suggest that, while harvesting decisions are somewhat robust to the introduction of species which reach maturity faster or are sold on the market at higher prices, there are indications that the optimal harvest schedules are more sensitive to growth patterns and price combinations under certain starting conditions. The main finding of the last part of the study consists in determining alternative harvesting configurations that generate similar adoption costs, while most likely having different impacts on amphibian populations.^ The purpose of this research was to contribute to the advancement of literature in the ecosystem management of forests. A forest manager adopting BMPs will lose economic rents, and the existing literature is currently inadequate to support comprehensive evaluation of the decisions affecting the balance between sustaining the revenues from the production of market goods (timber) and sustaining ecosystem functions of vernal pools. The main policy implication of this study is that decision makers can use the results of such simulations in order to identify management guidelines options which are equivalent in terms of adoption costs, but would result in the most effective ecological responses.^

Subject Area

Agriculture, Forestry and Wildlife|Economics, General|Economics, Agricultural

Recommended Citation

Gabriela Dobrot, "Forest management in the presence of harvest restrictions around vernal pools: A metaheuristic approach" (2008). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3346848.