A toolkit modeling approach for sustainable forest management planning: achieving balance between science and local needs
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Ecology and Society 12(2):1-12
To assist forest managers in balancing an increasing diversity of resource objectives, we developed a toolkit modeling approach for sustainable forest management (SFM). The approach inserts a meta-modeling strategy into a collaborative modeling framework grounded in adaptive management philosophy that facilitates participation among stakeholders, decision makers, and local domain experts in the meta-model building process. The modeling team works iteratively with each of these groups to define essential questions, identify data resources, and then determine whether available tools can be applied or adapted, or whether new tools can be rapidly created to fit the need. The desired goal of the process is a linked series of domain-specific models (tools) that balances generalized "top-down" models (i.e., scientific models developed without input from the local system) with case-specific customized "bottom-up" models that are driven primarily by local needs. Information flow between models is organized according to vertical (i.e., between scale) and horizontal (i.e., within scale) dimensions. We illustrate our approach within a 2.1 million hectare forest planning district in central Labrador, a forested landscape where social and ecological values receive a higher priority than economic values. However, the focus of this paper is on the process of how SFM modeling tools and concepts can be rapidly assembled and applied in new locations, balancing efficient transfer of science with adaptation to local needs. We use the Labrador case study to illustrate strengths and challenges uniquely associated with a meta-modeling approach to integrated modeling as it fits within the broader collaborative modeling framework. Principle advantages of the approach include the scientific rigor introduced by peer-reviewed models, combined with the adaptability of meta-modeling. A key challenge is the limited transparency of scientific models to different participatory groups. This challenge can be overcome by frequent and substantive two-way communication among different groups at appropriate times in the model-building process, combined with strong leadership that includes strategic choices when assembling the modeling team. The toolkit approach holds promise for extending beyond case studies, without compromising the bottom-up flow of needs and information, to inform SFM planning using the best available science.
Keywordsdecision support ecosystem management forest sustainability interdisciplinary modeling land planning participatory modeling scaling
Sturtevant, Brian R.; Fall, Andrew; Kneeshaw, Daniel D.; Simon, Neal P. P.; Papaik, Michael J.; Berninger, Kati; Doyon, Frederik; Morgan, Don G.; Messier, Christian. 2007. A toolkit modeling approach for sustainable forest management planning: achieving balance between science and local needs. Ecology and Society 12(2):1-12