Assessing the trade-offs between timber supply and wildlife protection goals in boreal landscapes
Protecting wildlife within areas of resource extraction often involves reducing habitat fragmentation. In Canada, protecting threatened woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou (Gmelin, 1788)) populations requires preserving large areas of intact forest habitat, with some restrictions on industrial forestry activities. We present a linear programming model that assesses the trade-off between achieving an objective of habitat protection for caribou populations while maintaining desired levels of harvest in forest landscapes. The habitat-protection objective maximizes the amount of connected habitat that is accessible by caribou, and the forestry objective maximizes net revenues from timber harvest subject to even harvest flow, a harvest target, and environmental sustainability constraints. We applied the model to explore the habitat protection and harvesting scenarios in the Cold Lake caribou range, a 6726 km2 area of prime caribou habitat in Alberta, Canada. We evaluated harvest scenarios ranging from 0.1 Mm3•year–1 to maximum sustainable harvest levels over 0.7 Mm3•year–1 and assessed the impact of habitat protection measures on timber supply costs. Protecting caribou habitat by deferring or reallocating harvest increases the timber unit cost by Can$1.1–2.0 m–3. However, this impact can be partially mediated by extending the harvest to areas of oil and gas extraction to offset forgone harvest in areas of prime caribou habitat.