Asst. Professor
Forest Management


My area of interest is forest management with a focus on productive natural forests and plantations. My overall research objective is to determine economically as well as ecologically sound forest resources management strategies focusing on the use of native tree species, as well as close to nature forest management, including effects of biotic and abiotic disturbances, risk or uncertainties.

Understanding and using tools from financial analysis is an important component to successfully manage our forests sustainably. Net present values, annuities or internal rates of return can be strong arguments for specific management choices, keeping in mind that most decisions in the area of forest management are economically driven.

Computer based decision support systems (DSS) help with understanding outcomes of possible management approaches and allow modelling future development of indicators, such as area of old growth forest, habitat or timber production. The research I do today includes the design and development of DSS better manage cumulative effects of multiple activities on a land base to understand trade-offs and balance social, ecological, and economic objectives.




Science driven decision support systems for a multifunctional sustainable forest management Current
June, 2015June, 2020

Achieving sustainable use of forested lands by means of an optimal allocation of land resources to competing purposes is a major global challenge for the 21st century. The overall aim of this program therefore is to develop, apply and validate a new suite of innovative approaches for a spatially explicit optimization of sustainable forest management under uncertainty.
We follow a number of critical lines of inquiry: Undertake detailed analyses of existing model types for spatially explicit resource allocation, economic optimization and reduction of production risk. We are developing a new suite of innovative approaches using open interfaces allowing a wide use and application, and finally we explore ways and deliver solutions for a constant enhancement of the database available for decision making.
Our tools are developed using algebraic modeling languages (such as AMPL AIMMS or GAMS) in combination with external modeling languages allowing a wide variety of applications.
We utilize algebraic modelling languages as their syntaxes have a high similarity to the mathematical notation of optimization problems. This allows for a very concise and readable definition of problems in the domain of optimization.
Newly developed science driven decision support systems will help to find sustainable forest management strategies for Canada’s forest resource, capable of fulfilling multiple objectives and facilitating constant resource supply. The decision support systems we develop will help to achieve the goal of developing both a sustainable forest resource and sustainable enterprises that are less susceptible towards risks, ensuring long-term economic sustainability and a sustainable conservation of forest values by allowing managers to make informed decisions and enabling them to consider a range of forest uses within explicit risk regimes, such as non-timber bio-resources.
The open source characteristics of the suite of innovative approaches that will be developed, as well as the strong focus on open interfaces will allow for a constant and ongoing advancement and adaption of the output the proposed work will deliver. (NSERC Discovery)

Utilization of seedlings less prone to ungulate browsing for the successful establishment and sustainable management of western redcedar stands Current
January, 2016

Western redcedar (WRC) (Thuja plicata), is a highly desirable species in British Columbia’s Coastal Western Hemlock zone, both from a management and a conservation perspective. But it is also highly palatable for ungulates. Numerous countermeasures such as the use of protective seedling cones or even fences have been explored to reduce damages in young WRC stands. These countermeasures are often quite costly and what’s even worse: they don’t always work reliably. Lately it was possible to link browsing preferences with needle monoterpene content. A finding that has led to the establishment of a breeding program for deer-resistant WRC for BC’s coast overseen by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) which is showing highly promising results.
Based on these developments this research aims to find an ideal mixture of WRC seedlings with various levels of needle monoterpene content that will reduce browsing risk in the long-term. Additionally, as planting pure stands of resistant WRC may force ungulates to change their foraging behavior, we will assess possible silvicultural alternatives that include the mixture of WRC with other suitable tree species, such as Douglas fir (DF) (Pseudotsuga menziesii). – This project is funded from various sources. We have established first trials using improved seedlings at Malcolm Knapp Research Forest and – in collaboration with our partners from industry and government – are working on data collection and analyses from them.

GE3LS bioSAFE (Biosurveillance of Alien Forest Enemies) Current
January, 2017December, 2020

Forests are a crucial part of Canada’s cultural, social and economic fabric. Their fibre powers the forest industry, generating jobs and wealth. They play a key environmental role, cleaning our air and water, storing carbon and providing habitat to wildlife. Invasive alien species and diseases, though, such as the Asian longhorned beetle, Dutch elm disease, sudden oak death and Asian gypsy moth, threaten our forests. They cause potentially irreversible damage to both the natural and urban environments and cost an estimated $800 million a year.
Most of these threats are not native to Canada, but arrive through the imported goods pathway. The best way to fight them is to detect them as early as possible through biosurveillance, so they can be eliminated before they establish themselves.
In the GE3LS research component of the project we are developing a model-based decision-support tool that incorporates socio-economic data on human-mediated spread of invasive pests and epidemiological and genomic data to help reduce the uncertainty with regard to invasive outbreak outcomes. (GenomeCanada and others)

Integration of Indigenous Values into Forest Management Planning Current
April, 2015

While indigenous people have historically been highly dependent on forested lands and their ecosystem services, modern harvest and resource management techniques have both strained the resilience of those ecosystems and negatively affected indigenous people on their traditional territories.
With Canada’s government and courts affirming the need to respect Aboriginal land titles First Nations will be empowered to take more control over their socio-economic affairs. One critical part of this is for First Nations groups to manage their forest resources in a self-determined way.
First Nations management goals show a particular relevance of native heritage values. The production of non-timber forest products as well as utilization of traditional ecological resources may offer economic opportunities beyond timber production.
However, the transition towards a self-determined management remains a huge challenge for the affected communities, even though well tested ways to combine ecological goals with timber production do exist. Therefore the purpose of this applied research project is to provide new data, knowledge and tools to assist First Nations communities with their new challenges.
In close collaboration with First Nations communities this research will cross natural with social sciences to allow a focused integration of First Nation’s perspectives into the production of sustainable forest management plans. (Hampton and other funding sources)

Professional Affiliations


Thurn & Taxis Award for outstanding doctoral research , 2012
IMAJO award , 2015
IMAJO award , 2016

Current Graduate Students

Ms Jillian G Spiess, MSc
Mr Enes Satir, MSc
Ms Thais L Almeida, PhD
Ms MarieEve Leclerc, MSc
Ms Kathleen Coupland, PhD
Ms Amber Hansen, MSc
Ms Seraphine Munroe, MSc
Mr Vivek Srivastava, PhD

Post Doctoral Fellows and Research Assistants

Dr Christian Leopoldo Vasco Perez
Dr Emina Krcmar
Dr Gregory Paradis

Previous Students, Post Doctoral Fellows and Research Assistants

Dr. Cosmin Man (2015/16) – Postdoctoral research fellow

MSc Krause, Marlen (2015) – The importance of sustainable forest management to counteract land degradation in Ethiopia: an economic valuation of ecosystem services and a review of the federal forest policy.

MSc Birchler, Michael (2014) – Managing for oak regeneration: The effects of 6 common treatments in southern Illinois.

MSc Wöllhaf, Simon (2014) – Planning a forest plantation in the Dominican Republic. Economically optimal choice of species and rotation times.

MSc Hofmann, Markus (2014) – Economic consequences of climate change induced changes in growth performance of spruce and beech.

MSc Berkmann, Ulrich (2014) – Optimizing the tree species portfolio in a Slovenian mountain forest considering ecosystem services.

MSc Havardi, Nirit (2012) – Financial evaluation of the Taungya system as compared to a  forest plantation: A case study in Panama.

MSc Bayer, Dominik (2010) – Biotic risks and their meaning for Central Europe’s main tree species.

BSc Friess, Anton (2009) – The impact of abiotic and biotic risks on Germany’s main tree species.

BSc Kopp, Gabriele (2009) – The impact of natural hazards on Germany’s main tree species.

Current Courses

Winter 2016

FRST424 Sustainable Forest Management Sections

Integration of biophysical and socio-economic components of forest management.

Winter 2016

FRST558 Landscape-Level Forest Land Management Sections

Preparation of landscape-level sustainable forest management plans that integrate ecological, social, and economic components.

Selected Publications

Vasco C,Torres B, Pacheco P, Griess VC (2017). The socioeconomic determinants of legal and illegal smallholder logging: Evidence from the Ecuadorian Amazon Forest Policy and Economics (Elsevier)
Roessiger J, Ficko A, Clasen C, Griess VC, Knoke T (2016). Variability in growth of trees in uneven-aged stands displays the need for optimizing diversified harvest diameters European Journal of Forest Research (Springer)
Griess VC, Uhde B, Ham C and Seifert T (2016). Product diversification in South Africa’s commercial timber plantations: a way to mitigate investment risk Southern Forests (Taylor & Francis)
Porth I., Bull G.Q., J. Cool, N. Gelinas, V.C. Griess (2016). An economic assessment of genomics research and development initiative projects in forestry CAB Reviews (CABI, Wallingford, UK): Perspectives in agriculture, veterinary science, nutrition and natural resources. 11(16):1-10
Griess VC (2016). New developments in Forest Management Planning CAB Reviews (CABI, Wallingford, UK)
Uhde B, Hahn WA, Griess VC, Knoke T (2015). Hybrid MCDA Methods to Integrate Multiple Ecosystem Services in Forest Management Planning: A Critical Review Environmental Management (Springer)
Griess VC, Panwar R, Cool J (2015). The potential of mixing timber assets to financially offset negative effects of deer browsing on western redcedar. The Forestry Chronicle
Härtl FH, Barka I, Hahn A, Hlásny T, Irauschek F, Knoke T, Lexer MJ, Griess VC (2015). Multifunctionality in European mountain forests. An optimization under changing climatic conditions Canadian Journal of Forest Research
Neuner S, Albrecht A, Cullmann D, Engels F, Griess VC, Hahn WA, Hanewinkel M, Härtl F, Kölling C, Staupendahl K, Knoke T (2014). Survival of Norway spruce remains higher in mixed stands under a dryer and warmer climate Global Change Biology (Wiley)
Paul C, Griess VC, Havardi-Burger N, Weber M (2014). Timber-based agrisilviculture improves financial viability of hardwood plantations: a case study from Panama Agroforestry Systems (Springer)
Griess VC, Knoke T (2013). Bioeconomic modelling of mixed Norway spruce – European beech stands Economic consequences of considering ecological effects European Journal of Forest Research (Springer) DOI: 110.1007/s10342-013-0692-3
Rößiger J, Griess VC, Haertl F, Clasen C, Knoke T (2013). How economic performance of a stand increases due to decreased failure risk associated with the admixing of species. Ecological Modelling (Elsevier) DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.01.019
Knoke T, Calvas B, Ochoa WS, Onyekwelu J, Griess VC (2013). Food production and climate protection – what abandoned lands can do to preserve natural forests. Global Environmental Change (Elsevier) DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.07.004
Knoke T, Griess VC, Hahn A, Schneider T, Rößiger J (2012). Forstbetriebsplanung als Entscheidungshilfe Ulmer
Griess VC, Acevedo R, Härtl F, Staupendahl K, Knoke T (2012). Does mixing tree species enhance stand resistance against natural hazards? A case study for spruce Forest Ecology and Management (Elsevier) DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2011.11.035
Griess VC, Knoke T (2011). Can native tree species plantations in Panama compete with Teak plantations? An economic estimation New Forests (Springer) DOI: 10.1007/s11056-010-9207-y
Griess VC, Knoke T (2011). Growth Performance, Wind-throw, Insects – Meta-Analyses of Economic Influence Factors for Mixed Species Stands in Boreal and Northern Temperate Biomes. Canadian Journal of Forest Research (Canadian Science Publishing) DOI: 10.1139/x11-042
Clasen C, Griess VC, Knoke T (2011). Financial consequences of losing admixed tree species: A new approach to value increased financial risks by ungulate browsing. Forest Policy and Economics (Elsevier) DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2011.05.005
Rößiger J, Griess VC, Knoke T (2011). May risk aversion lead to near-natural forestry? A simulation study. Forestry (Oxford Journals) DOI: 10.1093/forestry/cpr017