Developing Forest Management Strategies
The ENR 5320 Forest Management Class during spring semester 2017 conducted a competition to develop the best forest management strategy.
Students were presented with a real world scenario and challenged to identify the best management strategy to maximize forest products and rates of return.
The course taught by Roger Williams, an associate professor of forest ecosystem analysis and management in the School of Environment and Natural Resources is offered annually during spring semester. The course is required of students specializing in Forest Ecosystem Science and Management and Forestry and Wildlife. Both are part of the Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife major offered through the school.
Boise Cascade Corporation recently purchased 2,000 acres of mixed hardwood-pine forests, and decides to clear the land and plant it to loblolly pine. Since this 2,000 acres was somewhat isolated from their major southern land holdings but still within the feasible range of their mills, they want to develop an appropriate management strategy not necessarily consistent with the management on their other forestlands. Currently, they plant 680 trees per acre; perform a first thinning at age 20 years to 80 square feet of basal area; a second thinning at age 30 years to 95 square feet of basal area; a final harvest at 40 years of age. Their product goals are paper, fiberboard, OSB, plywood and lumber. Students were to determine what the best management strategy might be to maximize products and rates of return.
Students were given planting costs per acre and logging costs per amount of wood harvested; they were also given sawtimber and pulpwood prices and the company’s guiding rate of return. They were to use the loblolly pine growth and yield computer model. The final management strategy was judged on total yields, economic analysis and any further management justification. The economic analysis they were to use included net present values, Benefit/Cost analysis and rates of return.
Real-World Forest Management Tools
“This scenario illustrates a real-world situation that students can encounter in the private/corporate forestry sector. This exercise provides a capstone to the course as it incorporates what students learned about forest growth and yield, forest growth models, and forest economic analysis in management decision making,” said Williams.
“I tell students that I won’t make them forest managers – that will come after years of experience, but I give them tools they will need when they become managers,” he says.
As a result of this exercise they have a better appreciation and understanding of what is involved in the management decision process. From this they gain greater confidence in their knowledge and abilities, said Williams.
The Competition and Results
There were two competition divisions: Undergraduate and Graduate. Undergraduate students worked in teams, and graduate students worked alone. Individuals and teams placing were presented with a certificate. Accordingly, the placing awards were as follows: