Maintenance of flying squirrel habitat and timber harvest: a site-specific spatial model in forest planning calculations

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Spatial and temporal continuity of resources often benefits both ecological and economic goals in landscape management. Consideration of multiple and conflicting goals is also needed to view the future production possibilities of forests in successful forest management. Our aim was to estimate the production potential of a planning area in Finland by examining different forest management strategies from ecological and economic perspectives using long-term forest planning calculations. Economic objectives referred to timber production, whereas ecological objectives were based on suitable habitats for arboreal Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans). Suitable habitats were defined using an empirical site-specific model, which includes a spatial variable reflecting the availability of habitat within an individual's activity area. Five alternative forest plans were worked out with different objectives for flying squirrel habitat and timber production. The alternative plans were compared with respect to values of objective variables at the end of the planning period of 60 years and against a production possibility frontier among net present value and flying squirrel habitat. Varying objective values in our analyses resulted from different utilization of production possibilities, and the changes were in line with the objectives used. The formation of flying squirrel habitat clusters in the landscape was enhanced, and it did not always incur severe reductions in harvestable timber volume. Possibilities to combine ecological and economic goals, both spatial and aspatial, in the planning process seems to be an encouraging alternative for the long-term forest management in the future.

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