The planning process for the Pack Forest Landscape Plan began at the end of 1997 as a cooperative effort between Pack Forest and the University of Washington College of Forest Resources' Silviculture Lab: an arrangement that has benefited both parties. Pack Forest now has a highly developed 50-year landscape plan that has been accompanied by technological support from the Silviculture Lab. In turn, the Silviculture Lab has a place to test and develop its Landscape Management System (LMS) and planning processes; Pack Forest has become the LMS flagship.

Landscape Management System

The LMS process is described in great detail on the Landscape Management System (LMS) website. The following excerpt from the Ecosystem Management site provides a good summary:

The Landscape Management System (LMS) is an evolving computer application designed to facilitate the analysis and communication of landscape-scale forest management decisions. LMS originated from the recognition that many of the tasks required to calculate the effects through time of a given stand management scenario were simple and repetitive (e.g., simulating growth for individual trees, calculating basal area from simulated inventory). When developing multiple management scenarios for a single stand the large number of calculations becomes time-limiting; as the number of stands that are considered increases, the number of calculations necessary to compare potential management scenarios becomes prohibitively large. LMS was developed as a tool to link inventory data, spatial information, and growth models to perform the thousands and thousands of necessary, but repetitive, calculations needed to compare landscape management scenarios. As a consequence LMS users can ask as many "what-if?" questions as possible and have more time to think about and develop creative management alternatives.

In essence, LMS simplifies and speeds up landscape management processes by combining complex growth models, visualization and inventory software into one understandable package. It is a powerful tool.

Reasons for Planning

Pack Forest is an approximately 4300-acre research and demonstration forest owned and managed by the University of Washington College of Forest Resources. At present, there are just over 200 unique stands in the forest that vary in age from zero to 200 years old and are largely typical of the lowland Douglas-fir region (see scoping). Pack Forest is guided by an existing management plan which provides a list of management objectives for the forest and campus facilities (see Management Objectives and Measurable Criteria). It is important to distinguish between the existing management plan and the landscape plan that results from the LMS process: the landscape plan is a vehicle to carry out forest-related management objectives.

Pack Forest management initiated LMS planning process with the expectation that it would lead to a better understanding of the resource base and the range of reasonable management options. The process results in a series of operational alternatives which can be presented to decision makers. The first phase of the planning process is completed once an alternative has been selected and then implemented into a 50-year plan that is divided into five-year planning cycles. Each five-year cycle is defined by specific stand treatments and the landscape-level outcomes of those treatments. Active management happens in the current five-year cycle - treatments are scheduled to specific dates and executed. The plan is reviewed, modified and reinstated at the end of each five-year cycle for another 50-year period.

Planning Process Outline

This web project sets out the basic outline of the LMS planning process as summarized below:

  1. Identify Roles. Planners must determine the roles best played by various stakeholders, ranging from decisionmakers to user groups.
  2. Develop Objectives. This is a critical and sometimes difficult step that involves reflection on the mandates and values of the managing organization.
  3. Develop Measurable Criteria. Objectives set the desired outcomes of a plan and measurable criteria provide a means to measure the degree to which an objective is achieved.
  4. Scoping. Planners must know what is on their landscape. Scoping is a process of evaluating landscape patterns and characteristics.
  5. Grouping. Once landscape patterns are understood, the forest must be stratified into several similar groups that can be represented by one average stand. Planning that is based on individual forest stands is too difficult at the landscape level. By grouping stands with similar characteristics (age, site index, species, etc.), planners can make generalizations and vastly simplify the planning process.
  6. Silvicultural Pathways. Stand treatment pathways must be developed for each group.
  7. Growth Model. An appropriate growth model must be selected. The model can be calibrated to the specific area if growth data is available.
  8. Alternatives. An array of alternatives needs to be developed by treating the groups with the silvicultural pathways.
  9. Alternative Selection. An alternative is selected and further developed as the "final run". The developed alternative is not based on the average stands; instead stands are individually treated in proportions that represent the alternative's group pathway assignments. The final run is then compared to the outcome predictions of the original alternative. If they compare favorably, the alternative can be accepted as the landscape plan. Further development is required if the comparison is not favorable.
  10. Outcomes. The first output of the landscape plan is a 50-year operations schedule of stand treatments with treatments scheduled in five-year cycles. The social, economic and biological consequences of the operations schedule can be also evaluated.
  11. Field Plan. The field plan is derived from the first ten years of the operations schedule. Each of the scheduled treatments are evaluated for applicability and assigned an operation date along with any tasks associated with the treatments (i.e. seedling orders, stand exams, timber cruises, etc.).
  12. Monitoring and Adaptive Management. The plan is evaluated at the end of the first five-year planning cycle and the planning process undertaken again. In order to make continued improvements in subsequent plans, it is critical that the effectiveness of the planning and implementation processes be understood. Monitoring provides the necessary tools for evaluation.

Contributors to this Website

This website project is the culminated effort of the people listed below. Credit for specific contributions are also given at the bottom of each of the pages within this site. Other participants in the project are listed under Identify Roles. This planning effort would not have been possible without the vision, commitment and encouragement of Pack Forest's manager Stanley Humann and Dr. Chadwick Oliver from the University of Washington College of Forest Resources.

Mason McKinley, Pack Forest, Staff Forester. Editor. Contributor.

Prof. Chadwick Oliver, College of Forest Resources. Contributor. Advisory.

Jim McCarter, College of Forest Resources, Silviculture Lab. Contributor. Technical support.

Jeff Comnick, College of Forest Resources, Silviculture Lab. Contributor. Technical support.

Patrick Baker, College of Forest Resources, Silviculture Lab. Contributor.

Stanley D. Humann, Pack Forest, College Lands Manager. Advisory.

Prof. Eric Turnblom, College of Forest Resources. Advisory.


Mason McKinley, Pack Forest