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.
As part of a large scale applied research project researchers in my lab are involved in the GE3LS part of the project bioSAFE
GE3LS research investigates questions at the intersection of genomics and society (G = Genomics, and its E3 = Ethical, Environmental, Economic L = Legal and S = Social Aspects).
Forests play a vital role in Canada’s cultural, social and economic fabric. They provide fibre to the forest industry, generating jobs and wealth. Healthy forests support a healthy environment by cleaning the air and water while providing habitat to wildlife. However, our forests face unprecedented threats from pests and diseases that can cause large irreversible damage to our natural and urban environment. A big concern is that invasive alien species, such as Asian longhorned beetle, Dutch elm disease, sudden oak death and Asian gypsy moth threaten our forests and could cost Canada an estimated $800M annually. These threats are not native to Canada and often arrive here unseen and undetected when we import goods from abroad. The best way to stop those invasive alien species is to find them sooner than later so that they can be eliminated before they become established. To do this we need more powerful tools to detect and identify those threats. Our research team will harness the power of genomics to develop a new suite of effective tools that will make it possible to rapidly and accurately detect these four detrimental forest enemies to Canada. The new tools will allow forest health professionals to track and point to the source of these threats so that we can develop more efficient ways to prevent future invasions. With this knowledge in hand, we will be able to conduct early interventions and eliminate these threats at the source. We expect that our project will generate economic impacts of at least $800M annually by protecting our forest resources and $2.2B by maintaining export markets.
Our GE3LS activity (4) will develop a decision support system (DSS) that integrates the risk of invasive species outbreaks with related economic consequences. Our DSS will help inform FIAS management decisions of end users such as CFIA, NRCan, FPInnovations, provincial departments of natural resources, and international authorities. A robust DSS requires accurate estimates of risk, impact, and the financial costs of an invasion. To fill this knowledge gap, we will use tools from mathematical finance, as well as operations research, to build a risk sensitive DSS that will be translated into a software application available to our end-users. The DSS will integrate findings from Activities 1-3, CFIA’s pest risk assessment data, as well as related social, economic and ecological information to select the appropriate risk management approaches. We will develop economic impact data and pre-defined scenarios along with a risk management continuum ranging from ‘do nothing’ to ‘implement immediate eradication’, as well as the related sensitivity analyses. The DSS will be developed using a modular approach which ensures a flexible, adaptable framework into which data components can be added as they are developed.
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.
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. (NSERC Engage, IMAJO and other funding sources)
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)
Within a collaborative and inter-disciplinary framework, PICS supports a range of solutions-oriented research initiatives to assist British Columbia, and beyond, meet the multi-faceted climate change challenge. Current initiatives include five major policy-relevant projects (the “Big Five”) developed under Phase II of the Strategic Research Plan, plus several dozen graduate and post-doctoral fellowships and 10 employment internships each year. PICS also commissions leading edge research from academics and experts from BC and around the world.
Forestry is an important employer in British Columbia. In addition to ecological impacts on forests, climate change in BC will have impacts on the social and economic activities around the forestry sector. In addition to exploring how BC’s 55 million hectares of forests will be impacted by climate change, this project will focus on approaches that can contribute to reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
This project will design, evaluate and recommend potential climate change mitigation strategies comprised of activities aimed at reducing GHG emissions and increasing sinks through forest management, afforestation, forest conservation and through the use of harvested wood products that can both store carbon and displace emissions-intensive materials such as concrete and steel, and displace fossil fuels used in heating and transportation. The project will evaluate impacts on GHG balances, the associated costs of mitigation activities, as well as other socio-economic indicators. The project will involve stakeholders in government, industry, ENGOs, First Nations, and the public. The project team will include experts from universities and federal and provincial governments. The project has three research themes: mitigation options, ecosystem risks and policy and finance.
UBC Collaborators: George Hoberg
UBC Postdocs: Gregory Paradis
NRCan Collaborators: Werner Kurz, Carolyn Smyth, Tony Lempriere and others.
Current Graduate Students
Post Doctoral Fellows and Research Assistants
Previous Students, Post Doctoral Fellows and Research Assistants
Dr. David Jackson (2017) – Postdoctoral research fellow
Dr. Christian L. Vasco (2016/17) – Postdoctoral research fellow
Dr. Emina Krcmar (2016/17) – Research Associate
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.