Decline of cavity-using wildlife species is a major forest management issue. One of the causes of this problem is the loss in cavity tree abundance, resulting from short rotation silviculture, stand-replacing disturbance events and timber harvesting in disturbed stands. Cavity tree availability cannot be guaranteed due to the stochastic nature of disturbance events. We developed a Markov model to predict future cavity tree availability under alternative tree felling and fire protection strategies using information on cavity tree dynamics and fire history. Stochastic dynamic programming was used to find a strategy thatmaximizes timber revenues less forest management costs, including the cost of an artificial nest-box program that must be implemented whenever cavity trees become critically scarce. The requirement to implement a nest-box program in such circumstances strongly influenced the optimal tree felling strategy and resulted in a higher probability of having cavity trees in the future. This reflected an increase in the retention of old growth forest and stands with fire-killed cavity trees as well as stands of younger trees to provide a future source of cavities. These results demonstrate the need to consider the costs of artificial habitat enhancement and the risk of future cavity tree scarcity in multiple-use forest management planning.
Spring, D. A., Kennedy, J., Lindenmayer, D. B., McCarthy, M., & MAC NALLY, R. (2008). Optimal management of a flammable multi-stand forest for timber production and maintenance of nesting sites for wildlife. Forest Ecology and Management, 255, 3857-3865. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2008.03.033