Scenario Development

We organized a Forest Scenarios Project team with researchers and local experts to identify plausible landscape scenarios, or alternative futures, that may drive landscape change in this study area. Experts were primarily land management practitioners, chosen for both their knowledge and their affiliation with the agencies and organizations responsible for the management of the study areas, including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the United States Forest Service (USFS), The Nature Conservancy, and timber management organizations (TIMO's). Additional experts included academic and agency scientists capable of considering the project within the context of broad-scale forest management and monitoring in the Great Lakes region. Expert input was elicited through a series of in-person workshops, web-based workshops, and one-on-one interviews. The landscape scenario development process was fully described by Price and colleagues (2012).

Alternative Landscape Scenarios

Experts identified three alternative landscape scenarios in the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest study area: 1) continuation of current management, 2) increased area under conservation easement, and 3) cooperative ecological forestry. Each scenario represents a unique spatial arrangement of ownership and set of management activities on the landscape.

Explore the details and spatial attributes of the four alternative landscape scenarios in the maps below.

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Climate Change Impacts

Experts identified increased wildfire and windthrow as the climate change impacts of greatest concern in these landscapes. Historically, fire and windthrow were the major disturbances shaping forests of northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula (Schulte and Mladenoff 2005). Fire and windthrow disturbances may be some of the first and the most intense climate change impacts to affect forest management in the short term. Visit our Climate Change page for a more in-depth look at recent and projected climate change in the Upper Peninsula as well as how these changes are expected to impact fire and windthrow dynamics in the region. The same concerns and rationale for considering the effects of climate change apply in WRLF as in the THR watershed.

To capture climate change impacts in these simulations, the probability of wildfire and windthrow were changed to simulate a possible future increase in their frequency. The probability of fire and windthrow were gradually and linearly increased over the duration of the simulation from historic probability to a maximum probability 50% greater than historic conditions at year 100. The 50% increase was used here as an easily understood heuristic to enable conservation practitioners and land managers to explore and visualize the impacts of climate change in their study area.