Visual Quality and Sustainability in the Crowsnest Pass

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development: Forest Management Branch, 2003. Photo by Tammy Kobliuk.

The C5 forest management unit [3] is in southwestern Alberta and spans the Crowsnest Pass; a dramatic example of the foothills landscape in southern Alberta. Like many of today's resource management planning problems there is conflict between the interests and ideas of different users. The Crowsnest Pass is a main access point through the Rocky Mountains to British Columbia, and an exceptional area for tourists and sight-seers.

Due to the unique landscape and proximity to urban centres, this area provides countless recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and recreationalists. To top it off, this area is also an important source of fibre for southern Alberta mills which provide employment to communities in the area.

Cutlines visible across broad viewsheds. Tammy Kobliuk: ASRD, Forest Management Branch, 2003.

Mixedwood forest types in the C5 unit. Tammy Kobliuk: ASRD, Forest Management Branch, 2003.

Cutblock disturbances visible from a road. Tammy Kobliuk: ASRD, Forest Management Branch, 2003.

The Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASDR) must balance many issues in the management plans for these areas, including the establishment of Visual Quality Objective (VQO) areas. These areas are managed to protect the visual quality of scenic vistas within the management unit by limiting the area of disturbance from forest activities. Young forest resulting from harvest treatments appear 'disturbed' until they grow to a sufficient height and blend with the surrounding forest. The VQO rules limit the proportion of disturbance in each area while still maintaining a sustainable supply of fibre to the surrounding mills. This is an excellent problem to address in Patchworks.

We will create accounts for each VQO area to track the amount of disturbed forest. We will set 'targets' on these accounts to limit the proportion of disturbance, according to our management objectives. We will also set up conventional wood supply accounts and targets, and use the multiple-objective solver in Patchworks to find a solution that jointly satisfies all objectives.

[3] We gratefully acknowledge the Forest Management Branch of the Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD) for providing the Crowsnest Pass sample dataset.