approach for assessing suitability for forest management based on constraints of the physical environment at a regional scale1 | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
December 2015
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Constraints of the physical environment affect forest growth and forest operations. At a local scale, these constraints are generally considered during forest operations. At regional or continental scales, they are often integrated to larger assessments of the potential for a given land unit to be managed. In this study, we propose an approach to analyze the integration of physical-environment constraints in forest management activities at the regional scale (482 000 km²). The land features that pose constraints to forest management (i.e., hydromorphic organic deposits, dead-ice moraines, washed till, glacial block fields, talus, and active aeolian deposits, slopes > 40%) were evaluated within 1114 land districts. To distinguish land districts that can be suitably managed from those where constraints are too important for sustainable timber production, we carried out a sensitivity analysis of physical constraints for the 1114 land districts. After analysis of two portions of the study area under management, a land district was considered suitable for management when more than 20% of its land area consists of features imposing few constraints or, for mountain-type relief districts, when more than 40% of the land area consists of features imposing few constraints. These cutoff values were defined by expert opinion, based on sensitivity analyses performed on the entire study area, on analyses of two different sectors with different types of constraints and on a strong understanding of the study area. Our results show that land districts where the physical environment posed significant constraints covered 7.5% of the study area (36 000 km²). This study shows that doing an a priori classification of land units based on permanent environmental features could facilitate the identification of areas that are not suitable for forest management activities.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Robitaille, André
Jean-Pierre Saucier
Michel Chabot
Damien Côté
Catherine Boudreault


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