Metla Project 3369

Heuristic optimization methods in forest planning

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Duration: 2003-2007   Keywords: biodiversity, landscape ecology, multi-objective forest planning, optimization
Research project group: Distinct projects - Forest-based enterprise and business activities


The objective of the research project is to increase the amount of forest management planning problems that can be solved by numerical models in forest planning calculations. The emphasized planning problems cover the levels of forest stands, forest holdings and landscapes. The optimization methods and planning models are developed specifically for biodiversity related planning situations. In this context, the models must be capable of solving optimization problems that address spatial objectives (clustering of species habitats and spatial and temporal continuum of habitats), that include objectives targeted at different parts of the planning area (regional planning of private forests which includes landscape level objectives and landowners holding-specific objectives, and stand-level objectives), and that have several decision-makers. In addition to biodiversity related issues, the developed models quite often are able to solve planning problems that stress mainly timber production issues. For example, they are able to produce clustered cutting areas inside one holding’s forests or at the borders of neighbouring forest holdings.

This project participates in the biodiversity research programme (MOSSE) project called Ecological considerations in landscape-level collaborative planning of private forestry.


We have examined the performance of different heuristic optimization techniques in increasingly difficult planning problems. In addition, we have used the heuristic techniques in planning situations, where biodiversity objectives have been considered simultaneously with timber-production objectives. The “biodiversity objectives” enable, e.g., the creation and maintenance of old-forest clusters. In addition, we have created forest plans for the 10 000 ha forest area managed by Forest and Park Service. In the study, the area-specific flying squirrel habitat suitability model was integrated to the planning software and alternative forest plans, located in the different parts of the production possibility frontier, were created. The article will be published in Landscape Ecology in the near future. The article can be found here.

The other major research subject of the project relates to the cooperative management of private forests. This is an important research subject for example from the viewpoint of new voluntary tools that are tested in biodiversity maintenance in private forests of Southern Finland. Typical characteristic of cooperative management is the planning hierarchy, where the combination of holding-level forest plans forms the area-level plan. We have developed approaches and objective function formulations for these kinds of situations, which can simultaneously take into account the holding-level objectives and the area-leve objectives. The approaches produce efficient forest plans for both hierarchy levels. In addition, the aim is to produce acceptable forest plans for individual holdings so that the holdings could adopt the produced forest plans without conflicts.

Project leader: Leskinen, Pekka
The Finnish Forest Research Institute, Joensuu Office, PL 68, FI-80101 JOENSUU, FINLAND
Phone: +358 29 532 2111

Other researchers: Kilpeläinen, Harri, JO (2006), Kurttila, Mikko, JO (2006), Leskinen, Leena, JO (2006), Pykäläinen, Jouni (2006)

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Updated 12.06.2012