A block is the primary spatial unit in the Patchworks model.

A block in Patchworks:


The Patchworks model does not track the spatial distribution of managed and unmanaged areas within a block, but rather assumes that within-block homogeneity is an acceptable portrayal of forest for the purposes of the analysis.

Information concerning each individual block is contained in the blocks.csv file, which contains 5 mandatory fields. See Table 6, “Block file format description” for a detailed description of the block file format.

Table 6. Block file format description

Field nameData typeDescription
BLOCKString A unique, arbitrary alphanumeric label that is used to identify the block for tracking purposes. The label should not contain special characters or spaces.
TYPEString This field contains the string value managed or the string value unmanaged to indicate that the track, offset and area fields apply to the managed or unmanaged component of the stand respectively.
TRACKString An alphanumeric label describing the initial track assignment for this block component. There must be a matching entry for this label in the feature file (see the section called “Features”). Optionally, you may include matching entries in the treatment file (see the section called “Treatments”).
OFFSETinteger An integer representing the starting point along the feature curves at the beginning of the simulation. This value is typically the age of the stand but for all aged-stands it may represent the time since last entry.
AREAfloat A floating point decimal number representing the area of the block component. The units are problem dependent, but in most cases will be hectares or acres.

This file provides a connection between the spatial and attribute data. The main function of the block file is to associate each block with an identifying label, indicate whether or not the block contains managed, unmanaged or both types of area, the initial track assignments, and the age (offset) and area of the different management types.


The block.csv file is a starting point of the Patchworks data model. It provides pertinent information about the block and links to more detailed data in other core files. If a block contains both managed and unmanaged area, there will be a separate record in block.csv for each type. Both records will start with the same block identification label, but each contains specific information regarding the unique forest characteristics of either managed or unmanaged types. By using this type of data structure, Patchworks is able to keep track of both managed and unmanaged areas within a single block.

More detailed characteristics of the forest are held within the other core files. A track provides a link to the stand conditions in the block. A track is a Patchworks structure that associates blocks with forest dynamics. Every block is associated with tracks that describe changing forest conditions and available management treatments. The block file identifies which initial track each portion of the block belongs to. This track information can then be used to link the block to a set of curves describing the initial forest conditions in detail.

Example 11. Sample block file records

	  BLOCK    TYPE       TRACK        OFFSET  AREA
	  1        unmanaged  Track.2      81      13.78
	  2        managed    Track.3      101     9.31
	  2        unmanaged  Track.4      81      16.13
	  3        managed    Track.5      81      7.51
	  3        unmanaged  Track.6      81      18.12
	  6        unmanaged  Track.7      61      0.2
	  7        unmanaged  Track.8      61      2.01
	  8        unmanaged  Track.7      61      1.24
	  9        unmanaged  Track.9      81      11.4
	  10       unmanaged  Track.7      61      0.4

Notice that some Blocks have only a single forest type (blocks 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) and therefore only one record. This means that 100% of the block is described by a single track, offset and area. Block 2 and block 3 on the other hand, are divided into both managed and unmanged types. Each of these blocks has two records so that the types can follow independent tracks.


When Patchworks starts, it will initialize the block structures with the area, track and offset values found in the block file. The default condition at startup time has no management treatments assigned to blocks, thus all blocks initially track along their original assignments for the entire planning horizon.