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Clustering Timber Harvests and the Effects of Dynamic Forest Management Policy on Forest Fragmentation

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Ecosystems. Vol. 1 no. 1.:p. 482-492. (1998)


To integrate multiple uses (mature forest and commodity production) better on forested lands, timber management strategies that cluster harvests have been proposed. One such approach clusters harvest activity in space and time, and rotates timber production zones across the landscape with a long temporal period (dynamic zoning). Dynamic zoning has been shown to increase timber production and reduce forest fragmentation by segregating uses in time without reducing the spatial extent of timber production. It is reasonable to wonder what the effect of periodic interruptions in the implementation of such as strategy might be, as would be expected in a dynamic political environment. To answer these questions, I used a timber harvest simulation model (HARVEST) to simulate a dynamic zoning harvest strategy that was periodically interrupted by changes in the spatial dispersion of harvests, by changes in timber production levels, or both. The temporal scale (period) of these interruptions had impacts related to the rate at which the forest achieved canopy closure after harvest. Spatial dynamics in harvest policies had a greater effect on the amount of forest interior and edge than did dynamics in harvest intensity. The periodically clustered scenarios always produced greater amounts of forest interior and less forest edge than did their never clustered counterparts. The results suggest that clustering of harvests produces less forest fragmentation than dispersed cutting alternatives, even in the face of a dynamic policy future. Although periodic episodes of dispersed cutting increased fragmentation, average and maximum fragmentation measures were less than if clustered harvest strategies were never implemented. Clustering may also be useful to mitigate the fragmentation effects of socially mandated increases in timber harvest levels. Implementation of spatial clustering during periods of high timber harvest rates reduced the variation in forest interior and edge through time, providing a more stable supply of forest interior habitat across the landscape.


timber harvest; aggregation of harvests; dynamic zoning; spatial simulation model; forest interior; forest fragmentation; forest management policy; forest management planning


Gustafson, Eric J. 1998. Clustering Timber Harvests and the Effects of Dynamic Forest Management Policy on Forest Fragmentation. Ecosystems. Vol. 1 no. 1.:p. 482-492. (1998)

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