Forest and Ecosystem Management System
NRSIG Budget: $277,204
Project Budget: $277,204
Sponsors: Yale
Timeline: January 2018 through March 2019
Partners: Yale, UNDP


In 2000, a management plan was developed for the University of Washington’s Pack Forest using the Landscape Management System (LMS), Scoping and Grouping, and TOGGLE programs.  The analysis used prototype versions of Scoping and Grouping and TOGGLE with a limit of six groups and 15 pathways per group.  Data was manually pasted from LMS output tables into the spreadsheet programs.  LMS facilitated inventory analysis, data copying, treatment definitions and scenario development, and interaction with the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS).  Management objectives included stand structure classification and standing and harvested volume over time.  Results, including graphs and tables from TOGGLE and Stand Visualization System images from LMS, were reported on a website.  The project successfully demonstrated the capabilities of the approach to create strategic-level landscape management alternatives.  Additionally, TOGGLE spreadsheets were provided to students and interested stakeholders who then developed their own alternatives, demonstrating the potential for additional users to develop landscape alternatives after the data creation step is completed.

An expanded TOGGLE was used in 2002 to analyze a mixed ownership watershed in Oregon.  Ownership in the watershed was arranged in a checkerboard pattern between the Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and a private timber company.  The BLM was required to manage for Northern Spotted Owl habitat under the Northwest Forest Plan.  The analysis allowed for 20 groups and additional pathways.  Results from the analysis were used by the BLM during their planning update process.

Finally, the UW Olympic Natural Resources Center (ONRC) conducted collaborative landscape analyses for the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2005.  Stakeholders from local tribes, environmental groups, and the city of Forks, Washington were led through the Scoping and Grouping and TOGGLE process by ONRC staff and DNR managers for landscapes on the Olympic Experimental State Forest.  A goal of the project was to improve the shared understanding of the current state of the forest and of management alternatives.

Our Work

Our Approach

We propose a modular system with five primary components: data, Scoping and Grouping, Growth and Treatments, TOGGLE, and a user interface. Development of the system will first focus on scripts and data structures, followed by the user interface and finally integrating the components into a single application. There are several advantages to a modular system.  First, a modular approach simplifies development.  It also enables the functionality of both the Scoping and Grouping and TOGGLE approach and the Dynamic Forest Framework approach.  Applying the growth modeling approach from the Dynamic Forest Framework to representative stands from Scoping and Grouping results in a more complete and flexible set of pathways in TOGGLE with reduced user input, time, and effort.  Finally, the functionality will also exist to model treatments for all stands.  The ability to model multiple treatments at each time step and dynamically group stands for TOGGLE takes substantially more computing power but builds a system for the future and enables spatially explicit mapping and visualization of alternatives.

The system envisions two major user roles.  An advanced user will use the Scope and Group and Growth and Treatments programs to develop the data necessary to create alternatives in TOGGLE.  This will be a limited and protected role.  The second user group uses the TOGGLE program in a web browser to create alternatives.  This user group is not limited.

Open Source

An open source software solution will be developed to facilitate the major steps necessary to create forest management alternatives and evaluate them against management objectives.  The system will be developed primarily using the R Statistical Language, the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS), and an open source database program.  An effort will be made to utilize the rFVS implementation of FVS, dependent on the developmental status of that project.  Graphical user interfaces will be developed using the R Shiny package.  Shiny produces web applications accessible through a web browser.

The project will be developed as an open source project and will be available for download from a public open source project repository.

Leverages Existing Platforms and Tools

The proposed approach utilizes existing open source tools and platforms and integrates those with proven concepts from the Biomass Supply and Waste to Wisdom projects, reducing risk for the overall success of the project. The project timeline does not allow for and the target audience does not necessitate the full integration of all of the Forest Vegetation Simulator’s functionality or the complete implementation of the methods from the Dynamic Forest Framework. The most relevant functionality from FVS, existing open source projects like OpenFVS, rFVS and Shiny, and the advances made in the Dynamic Forest Framework will be leveraged to create the proposed system.

Yale Sustainable Forest website