Coastal Landscape Analysis and Modeling Study


The development of forest policies to sustain biological diversity while providing for other social and economic values of forests and watersheds is a major challenge for policy makers and managers. In the Pacific Northwest, conflicts over balancing ecological, economic, and social demands on forests paralyzed forest management on federal lands during the late 1980s and early 1990s and introduced considerable uncertainly in management on private lands. These controversies have led to major new forest polices in the region for Federal and State lands and considerable modification of forest polices for private forest lands. In Oregon's Coast Range, separate new polices for federal, state, and private lands have been initiated in the last few years. The Northwest Forest Plan for federal forests has brought sweeping changes to forest management on these lands and have reduced timber sales there by almost 90 percent compared to the 1980s. The new Forest Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan for the Elliott State Forest significantly refocused management of that forest and the soon-to-be-completed Forest Plans for Northwest State Forests will undoubtedly do likewise. Recent changes to riparian policies for private lands have also been made. In addition, the listing of salmon stocks on the Oregon coast has cast a new federal regulatory blanket over forest management of this area.

Although these policies are based on the most current scientific information, it is uncertain how well they will meet their individual goals over time and space. It is even less clear if there are any ecological or economic interactions among them in this policy-diverse region. Our conceptual and quantitative scientific models are presently inadequate to distinguish among different policy approaches in a rigorous way. For example, we are currently unable to quantitatively project the effects of different policies on aquatic and terrestrial habitat and socio-economic outputs across an entire multi-ownership province or region. Without more rigorously developed conceptual and analytical models, it will not be possible to evaluate the potential for cumulative impacts of these different policies on ecological and socio-economic values over large landscapes as a whole (e.g., provinces or regions) and long time frames (>50 years).

In response to these issues a group of scientists lead by Tom Spies and Norm Johnson developed a research proposal in 1993 to study the effects of forest policies on ecological and socio-economic aspects of the Oregon Coast Range Province. This project, titled the Coastal Landscape Analysis and Modeling Study (CLAMS), which was initially funded through the COPE program, began detailed planning in 1994 and has been developing data bases, and prototypes since 1996 when it was fully funded through the PNW Research Station, Oregon State University and other sponsors.


Goal of CLAMS

The goals of the study are to develop and evaluate concepts and tools to understand pattern and dynamics of provincial ecosystems such as the Coast Range and to analyze the aggregate ecological and socio-economic consequences of different forest policies and strategies across multiple ownerships of the province.


General Approach

The study area is the Oregon Coast Range Physiographic Province, which contains all of the Coast Range hydrological province and part of the Willamette hydrological province. Our approach is based on the assumption that by knowing landscape structure and dynamics of vegetation we can project consequences of different forest policies on ecological outputs such as biological diversity and socio-economic outputs, such as employment and recreational opportunities. The major steps in our approach are:

  1. Build high resolution spatial models (grain size of 0.1 to 10 ha) of current biophysical conditions (e.g. vegetation, ownership patterns, topography, streams) across all ownerships using Landsat TM satellite imagery, forest inventory plots, and other GIS layers.
  2. Conduct surveys and interviews of forest landowners to determine their expected management intentions (e.g. rotation ages, thinning regimes, riparian management intensity) under current policies and develop spatial land use change models based on retrospective studies.
  3. Simulate expected successional changes in forest structure and composition under different management regimes using ORGANON and ZELIG stand dynamics models.
  4. Build a landscape change simulation system based on forest management intentions and forest stand models to project future landscape structure for 100-200 years.
  5. Develop habitat suitability models for selected terrestrial and aquatic vertebrate species, coarse filter measures of community and landscape conditions, historical range of natural variation of forest successional stages, and landslide and debris flow potential, and geomorphic dynamics.
  6. Develop socio-economic response models for measures of employment and income by economic sector, timber value and production using IMPLAN; develop recreational opportunity spectrum models, and contingent value of biological diversity to the public.
  7. Build landuse change models that are based on historical FIA data and driven by estimates of population change.
  8. Estimate ecological and socio-economic consequences of current forest policies using the landscape simulator and the various response models.
  9. Include outside influences such as effects of population growth on land use change.
  10. Evaluate, test, and revise overall simulator system and sub-models.
  11. Provide policy makers, landowners, and the public with results of spatial projections of consequences and interact with them to help inform debate and facilitate collaborative learning.

Current policies and alternative policies will be simulated for all ownerships. Our approach to selecting alternative policies is to consult with agencies and landowners, especially the Oregon Department of Forestry's Policy Advisory Group for the State's Forestry Program for Oregon. Based on input from these groups and assessment of our capabilities, we have chosen several alternatives to examine that deal with private lands. We plan to consult with Federal and State managers to determine what policy alternatives, if any, they might be interested in us examining. For example, we could simulate a no cutting of old-growth policy on federal lands.

We will develop a conceptual framework for evaluating fundamental approaches to forest management. These will be based on our historical analysis and consider three primary strategy/goals for forest management. For each strategy we will develop a new approach that moves management toward and approximation of natural disturbance regimes. The degree of movement toward characteristics of natural disturbance regimes will depend on the goals of the strategy. We will lay these out in the Coast Range under the current ownership pattern and in a case where ownership boundaries are not considered. For each case we will evaluate ecological and timber outputs.



The CLAMS approach is integrated through a linked set of data bases and simulation models (Figure 1). Conceptually, the ecological and socio-economic dimensions of the project are integrated through quantitative, spatial characterizations of the landscape at various scales. Linkages to policies will be made in the policy model after consultation with various landowners and policy makers to determine the kind of policies and practices that they would like to see model be capable of simulating. Additional integration will occur within and across disciplines in the various scientific models that are developed. For example, upland and aquatic ecosystems will be linked through spatial simulation models that grow trees in the uplands and deliver them to the stream through mortality agents and geomorphic disturbances. Connections between measures of biological diversity and social systems will be made through existence valuation surveys of people to determine what they would be willing to pay for various levels of biological diversity. Not all components of the project feed directly into the policy analysis model (Figure 1). Some activities result in scientific insights into specific problems that are then translated into the project through synthesis papers.


  Relevance to Forest Policy Issues

CLAMS is relevant to a number of policy issues including the Northwest Forest Plan, the Forestry Plan for Oregon and the Governor's Salmon Initiative. The project will provide broad-scale insights into the potential effects of these and other policies. It is not intended as a tactical planning tool at this time but more as a way of getting a multi-ownership perspective on forest management effects across broad landscapes. In particular it will provide information about the following issues:

  1. Approaches for an integrated ecosystem basis for province and multi-province level planning among multiple landowners.
  2. Indicators and tools for monitoring biological diversity at broad scales.
  3. Feasibility of using selected Criterion and Indicators Conservation of Biological Diversity (Montreal Process) at province scale.


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