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Analysis of forest thinning strategies through the development of space-time growth-interaction simulation models

Renshaw, E. and Comas, C. and Mateu, J. (2009) Analysis of forest thinning strategies through the development of space-time growth-interaction simulation models. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment, 23 (3). pp. 275-288. ISSN 1436-3240

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Thinning strategies are a prime factor in generating spatial patterns in managed forests, and have a dramatic effect on stand development, and hence product yields. As trees generally have long life spans relative to the length of typical research projects, the design and analysis of complex long-term spatial-temporal experiments in forest stands is clearly difficult. This means that forest modelling is a key tool in the formulation and development of optimal management strategies. We show that the highly flexible Renshaw and Särkkä algorithm for modelling the space-time development of marked point processes is easily adapted to enable the comparative study of different thinning regimes. This procedure not only provides a powerful descriptor of forest stand growth, but there is considerable evidence that it is particularly robust to the accuracy of model choice. Two distinct thinning approaches are considered in conjunction with a variety of tree growth functions and both hard- and soft-core interaction functions. The results obtained strongly suggest that combining the immigration-growth-spatial interaction model with spatially explicit thinning algorithms produces a realistic and flexible mechanism for mimicking real forest scenarios.