ForestSim model of impacts of smallholder dynamics: forested landscapes of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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Many forested landscapes in the United States contain a large number of small private landowners (smallholders). The individual decisions of these smallholders can collectively have a large impact on the structure, composition, and connectivity of forests. While models have been developed to try to understand this large-scale collective impact, few models have incorporated extensive information from individual decision-making. Here we introduce an agent-based model, infused with sociological data from smallholders, overlaid on a GIS layer to represent individual smallholders, and used to simulate the impact of thousands of harvesting decisions. Our preliminary results suggest that certain smallholder characteristics (such as relative smallholder age and education level as well as whether a smallholder is resident or absentee) and information flow among owners can radically impact forests at the landscape scale. While still in its preliminary stages, this modeling approach is likely to demonstrate in detail the consequences of decision-making due to changing smallholder demographics or new policies and programs. This approach can help estimate the effectiveness of programs based on landscape-scale programmatic goals and the impact of new policy initiatives.

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Copyright © 2013 Audrey L. Mayer and Mark D. Rouleau. Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/520207

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International Journal of Forestry Research

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.