Process & Systems Modelling

Assessing forest stand transformation using a sizestructured spatial population model

The current trend towards management of forests to meet biodiversity objectives can best be achieved if we have a good understanding of how to transform uniform plantations into a more natural forest state characterised by a broad range of tree ages and sizes with an irregular spatial structure. In collaboration with scientists from Forest Research and the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics, we have developed a stochastic spatial model of birth, growth and death of trees in stands of Scots pine, a native keystone species of the Scottish uplands. This model allows a rapid assessment of how effective different combinations of timing and intensity of potential management interventions are likely to be in creating more natural stand structures over a time period of several decades.

plantation stand desith diagram

Visual representation of modelled forest stands in which each circle represents a tree with circle diameters proportional to tree diameter at breast height of tree. The same initial plantation condition, taken from a plantation stand at Glenmore, was used in all simulations (a). Also shown are single typical realisations of the stand after 25 years growth following three thinning operations to reach a target basal area of 20m2 ha-1. Spatially correlated thinning (c) produces greater variation in tree size than spatially random thinning (b). Panel (d) shows the effect of patch thinning combined with underplanting at 900 trees ha-1.

semi natural forest plantation

Further details from: Ross Davidson

Article date 2011

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