Intensive management practices in Georgia and their impact on resource sustainability analysis
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One of the most vital questions asked by society today is whether or not our natural resources are utilized on a sustainable basis. We used long-term simulation analysis in a spatially explicit forest management model called OPTIONS to investigate the impact of the intensive pine plantation management on long-term forest resource sustainability. The results of the analyses suggest that acreage of IMP and rotation length are key to sustaining an increased harvest level. Even a reduced timberland (4% net reduction) in Georgia can easily sustain the current level of harvest with the current level of intensive pine plantation management for short and medium rotation ages. Increased pine plantation management intensity could lead to sustainable or even increased future wood production despite a decline in the forestland base and an increased wood demand. Timber growth would exceed removals in most of the projection period. Throughout the projections the harvest mainly came from planted pines. We developed a new method of estimating the IMP allocation rates at county level, which is a higher level of resolution than any publicly available data. Once the required data were collected, this method can be used to estimate IMP at any scale, such as nation, state, county, or any given region. The IMP areas in all pine plantations ranged from 0 to 28.9 thousand hectares for different counties in Georgia. Based on the enhanced analysis of IMP allocation we used simulations to determine the sustainable harvest levels (SHLs) by year 2020 for each centered county within various procurement areas. The information about SHLs can be used as a reference for mill siting. In general, the southeastern part of Georgia can provide more fiber resources than other regions in Georgia. Consequently, small-radius, high-SHL locations regions were mainly concentrated in the southeast of Georgia, while large-radius, high-SHL regions were mainly concentrated in regions around the following four major cities: Atlanta, Columbus, Macon, and South Augusta. Macon and South Augusta would be the best locations for siting mills.