Exploring the Tradeoffs Among Forest Planning, Roads and Wildlife Corridors: A New Approach

Resource Type
Denys Yemshanov
Robert Haight
Ning Liu
Rob Rempel
Frank Koch
Art Rodgers

Protecting wildlife corridors is a common management problem in regions of industrial forestry. In boreal Canada, human disturbances have negatively affected woodland caribou populations (Rangifer tarandus caribou), which prefer to function in large undisturbed areas. We present a linear programming model that allocates a fixed-width corridor between isolated caribou ranges and estimates its impact on harvest activities. Our corridor placement problem minimizes total resistance for caribou passing through the corridor, which is protected by a prohibition on all economic activities. We link this corridor placement problem with a harvest planning problem that maximizes the net revenues from harvest minus the cost of building and maintaining forest access roads. We depict gradual expansion of the forest road network over time as a multi-temporal network flow problem. We applied our approach to explore corridor options for connecting caribou populations in the Lake Superior Coast Range, with the Nipigon and Pagwachuan Ranges in the Kenogami-Pic Forest, in northern Ontario, Canada. Our results revealed two locations where corridor placement is cost-effective. Optimal corridor placement depends on the perception of the severity of the impact of roads on caribou populations and decision-making objectives. When the negative impact of roads is perceived to be high and/or maximizing harvest revenues is important, the optimal corridor location is in the eastern part of the study area. However, it is optimal to place the corridor in the western part of the area when the negative impact of roads is perceived to be small or the shortest corridor is desired.