Maximizing wildlife benefits through hardwood timber harvest scheduling

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


A computerized system for planning timber harvest to maximize habitat quality over time for a specified group of wildlife species was developed for upland oak forests of the Eastern United States. This system, called WILDWOOD for WILDiife/WOOD optimization system, is designed to run on a microcomputer. It utilizes a widely available database management system called PCFile III, Version 4, a forest growth and yield simulator adapted from work by Dale (1972), and a program developed by the author. The system utilizes 43 species-specific habitat value models developed by the author and others. Timber harvests in approximately one ha blocks (patch clearcut) are specified for each year to result in a maximum yearly average wildlife benefit figure. Wildlife benefits are defined as the product of a wildlife species value provided by the user, a forest-size-classspecific habitat value index, and the area of the cutting unit.

WILDWOOD was demonstrated on a 106 ha tract of upland oak forest on Havens Wildlife Management Area of the Virginia Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries. Six different objective functions were investigated and several model tests were conducted. Implications for the application of the WILDWOOD system were discussed, and it was concluded that, although the objectives of the study were met, the current WILDWOOD system should be modified to include smooth wildlife habitat succession models, at least a 150-year planning horizon, and capabilities for addressing cutting unit size, shape, and juxtaposition. Other possibilities for future revisions inclu~e modifying HEP (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) for use with WILDWOOD, and linking ageographic information system to WILDWOOD.