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Southeast Alaska. Southeast Alaska. British Columbia. British Columbia. Washington. Oregon. Washington. Oregon. Clearcut. Control. Small Patches. Retained Overstory. Group Selection. Extended Rotation. Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service, PNW Research Station. 200 m.

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Developing a network of large scale management experiments in the pacific northwest l.jpg











Small Patches


Group Selection


Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service, PNW Research Station

200 m

Figure 2. Blue Ridge block of the Capitol Forest Study LSME, located west of Olympia, Washington (Curtis et al. 2004). Note the operational scales typical of LSME treatment units, as well as the variability in intensity and spatial pattern of forest overstory removal treatments.

Klaus J. Puettmann, Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331

Nathan J. Poage, USDA Forest Service, PNW Research Station, Portland, OR 97205

Paul D. Anderson, USDA Forest Service, PNW Research Station, Corvallis, OR 97331

Developing a Network of Large-Scale Management Experiments in the Pacific Northwest


Continuing conflicts over the role of forests in the Pacific Northwest have greatly altered forest management, especially on public land. In Oregon and Washington, the Northwest Forest Plan implemented a major shift in federal land management focus from timber production to late-successional habitat and multi-resource ecosystem management (USDA and USDI 1994). Similar changes in forest management are occurring in southeast Alaska and British Columbia (Ministry of Forests 1992).

Given the general lack of experience in managing forest ecosystems for species and habitat protection and biodiversity, the need to develop and test “new”, science-based silvicultural practices was quickly identified (Loucks et al. 1996, Curtis 1998). In response, more than 30 Large-Scale Management Experiments (LSMEs) have been installed in the Pacific Northwest since the 1990s (Figure 1; Monserud 2002, Peterson and Monserud 2002, Vyse et al. 2004). These LSMEs are characterized by individual treatment units that are operational in scale (typically > 10 ha; Figure 2). A consequence of establishing and maintaining large (and expensive) treatment areas is that most individual LSMEs have few treatment replicates and cover a limited geographic extent. Study objectives typically address the compatible production of wood and wildlife, aquatic, biodiversity, and social resource values (Monserud 2002, Peterson and Monserud 2002).

Collaboration between researchers involved with different studies has been largely informal. Recent reviews and international conferences suggest that integration across these large-scale studies would greatly increase statistical power of individual studies through meta-analysis, enhance scientific understanding, and further improve silvicultural practices (Monserud 2002, Peterson and Monserud 2002, IUFRO 2004, Szaro et al. 2004). However, the lack of a centralized source of information providing a detailed overview of the different studies is a major barrier to cooperation.

Figure 1. Locations of Large-Scale Management Experiments in the Pacific Northwest. Over 70 blocks are shown for 35 LSMEs.

A New Information Network

We are initiating a more formalized information exchange network designed to facilitate cooperation, integration, and synthesis efforts among large-scale management experiments. Currently, we are developing a list of experiments and contact information for involved personnel, including researchers from various disciplines and managers and agency contacts. Next, we will compile information about the studies such as inference scope, type and timing of measurements, lists of publications, and intended future treatments. This information, to be publicized through a LSME Network website, will facilitate better understanding, how studies are addressing specific research topics, to identify issues in need of additional research, or to facilitate linkage for cooperative or integrative projects.

A logical future step is to bring interested researchers together to discuss opportunities and approaches for integration and synthesis efforts that promote full use of regional data while ensuring that researchers and programs maintain proprietorship of their individual data and studies. We are pursuing formal assessments of appropriateness, strengths, and limitations of various approaches for integration, including meta-analysis, dynamic modeling frameworks, and decision support systems.


Curtis, R.O. 1998. Selective cutting in Douglas-fir: history revisited. Journal of Forestry 96:40-46.

Curtis, R.O., D.D. Marshall, and D.S. DeBell, editors. 2004. Silvicultural options for young-growth Douglas-fir forests: the Capitol Forest study—establishment and first results. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-598. 110 pages.

IUFRO. 2004. International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) International Workshop, Balancing Ecosystem Values: Innovative Experiments for Sustainable Forestry. August 15-20, 2004. Portland, Oregon.

Loucks, D.M., S.A. Knowe, L.J. Shainsky, and A.A. Pancheco. 1996. Regenerating coastal forests in Oregon: an annotated bibliography of selected ecological literature. Research Contribution 14. Oregon State University, Forest Research Laboratory, Corvallis, OR. 122 pages.

Ministry of Forests. 1992. Alternatives to clearcutting: a strategy for finding solutions. British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Silviculture Branch. 7 pages.

Monserud, R.A. 2002. Large-scale management experiments in the moist maritime forests of the Pacific Northwest. Landscape and Urban Planning 50:159-180.

Peterson, C.E. and R.A. Monserud. 2002. Compatibility between wood production and other values and uses on forest lands: a problem analysis. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-564. 51 pages.

Szaro, R.C., C.E. Peterson, K. von Gadow, and N. Kräuchi, editors. 2004. Creating a legacy for sustainable science-based forest management: lessons learned from field experiments. Forest Snow and Landscape Research 78(1/2). Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL. Birmensdorf, Switzerland. 208 pages.

USDA and USDI. 1994. Record of Decision for amendment to Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management planning documents within the range of the Northern Spotted Owl. Standards and guidelines for management of habitat for late-successional and old-growth forest related species within the range of the northern spotted owl. U.S.G.P.O.:1994 - 589-111/00001 Region No. 10.

Vyse, A., A.K. Mitchell, and L. de Montigny. 2004. Seeking alternatives to clearcutting in British Columbia: the role of large scale experiments for sustainable forestry. Proceedings of the IUFRO International Workshop, Balancing Ecosystem Values: Innovative Experiments for Sustainable Forestry. August 15-20, 2004. Portland, Oregon. 12 pages.

Expected Outcomes

We envision that a regional network will help maximize the information gain from LSMEs through improved coordination of objectives or methods. Specifically, the increased power of inference may be helpful to overcome limitation of individual studies due to limited replications. It will also help provide long-term support for individual studies by emphasizing their unique features and contributions within a regional research context.