Simulation tools for decision support to adaptive forest management in Europe

  • Bart Muys Division Forest, Nature and Landscape, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
  • Jari Hynynen Finnish Forest Research Institute (METLA)
  • Marc Palahi European Forest Institute, Mediterranean Regional Office (EFIMED)
  • Manfred J. Lexer Institute of Siviculture, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU)
  • Marek Fabrika Faculty of Forestry, Technical University Zvolen
  • Hans Pretzsch Chair of Forest Yield Science, Technische Universität München
  • François Gillet Ecological Systems Laboratory, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; UMR Chrono-environnement, Université de Franche-Comté - CNRS
  • Elemer Briceño Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki
  • Gert-Jan Nabuurs European Forest Institute (EFI)
  • Vincent Kint Division Forest, Nature and Landscape, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Keywords: multi-objective forest planning, forest model, simulator, decision support system, climate change


In forest management there is a tendency towards measuring less and simulating more. In this context the development of reliable, user friendly forest simulators has become economically relevant. The objective of this perspective paper is to highlight the recent trends in forest simulation and to identify the remaining challenges to make forest simulation a reliable tool for forest policy and management. Experiences with forest simulators for various purposes in different geographical contexts illustrate how the important challenges of forest decision support can be addressed through flexible customization for different end-user categories, offering spatially explicit approaches at the landscape scale, and integrating empirical and mechanistic models in hybrid and bayesian simulation approaches. Recent development trends in forest simulation for decision support are mainly related to the ever increasing calculation speed and capacity of computers, facilitating the development of robust tools with comfortable user interface and realistic functions and options. Another trend is the combination of simulation tools with optimization and choice algorithms fading away the difference between simulators and decision support systems. The remaining challenges are basically in the high expectations of stakeholders concerning the ability of simulators to predict a range of outcomes in terms of ecosystem services and sustainability indicators, as well as the quality of their outcome in terms of output credibility to stakeholders. Need for accepted and realistic model validation and verification methods preferably using empirical data is crucial in this matter.
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