Forecaster is a desktop forest growth and quality decision support system, developed by Scion and Future Forests Research. Forecaster provides Forest Managers with tools to create and explore alternative forest management plans. Forest planners can determine the best strategies for their business by creating scenarios of management options, and then simulating outcomes. Silvicultural planners can implement plans correctly by having operations scheduled on time. Using log yields derived from simulated quantities at the time of harvest, resource analysts can manage yields to best meet customer requirements.
Forecaster predicts the impacts of site, silviculture and genetics on tree and branch growth and wood properties. This can be used to estimate wood value, internal rate of return and net present value.Forecaster can be effectively integrated with other forest management and planning systems or as a stand-alone application, linking to MS Office applications.
Regime Evaluation / Scenario Testing
Decision-makers need to be able to examine stand growth and yields for a range of scenarios to determine the best way to achieve business outcomes. A scenario reflects one possible “pass through reality”, such as one crop grown on a site through a regime using a particular group of models (function set), clearfell age and cutting strategy. The set of entities define a scenario project, providing flexibility to run a wide range of scenarios in Forecaster. These data can be entered manually or can be imported from other applications, such as a stand records system. ‘Green-fields’ scenarios can also be simulated where measurement data is not available, using stand productivity metrics such as Site Index and 300 Index. Information obtained from a simulated scenario over a full rotation can then be used as the basis for a stand-level economic evaluation. These simulation outputs including initial stocking; the number of pruned trees and their size distribution; the size and number of thinned trees; and log grade volumes, wood quality and extracted piece sizes for commercial thinning and clearfell.
Scheduling of silvicultural events so that operations can occur at the correct time has a big impact on tree quality and log value at harvest. With Forecaster, pruning and thinning operations can be triggered by stand attributes such as age, height measures and mean DOS (diameter over stubs). The use of non-age based triggers means that stands growing at different rates can still share the same regime. Each silvicultural operation is defined by describing how stems should be selected, any operational constraints, and the operation’s target outcome. For example, a pruning may require the trees with the highest current pruned height to be preferentially selected, with a target pruned height to be achieved and subject to a constraint on minimum green crown remaining after pruning. Other constraints may modify the timing of the event, in order to avoid undesirable outcomes.
Yield Table Generation
Maximising the value of logs harvested in the forest is of primary concern to forest managers. Forecaster uses the most up-to-date models to simulate log yields produced by a range of genetics, sites and management practices, in order to produce yield tables for valuation or croptyping. The yields of different log types are now based on the same log-making processes and strategies used in pre-harvest inventory analysis tools. Quality factors such as pruning, branch size, and wood density determine which log types are possible. Carbon sequestration can also be modelled in a manner consistent with that used by the NZ government.
Models are a key component of any system which simulates stand growth and quality. Forecaster incorporates both traditional models (used over the past 20+ years) and models from recent research to provide the most reliable results.
Models of changes in individual stems, resulting in simulations that are closer to reality than those based on modelling stand mean values, form the basis for projecting stand growth. Pruning and thinning can be more realistically modelled because individual stem selection criteria can be applied, and the effect of variable lift and catch-up pruning can also be modelled. The models project both the size of stems and quality factors such as wood density, pruned height and DOS of individual stems and the position and size of unpruned branches.
Simulations can be calibrated using actual measured distributions obtained from inventory assessments, allowing more realistic yield forecasts. New models are constantly being added to Forecaster, as research becomes available or at the request of clients. The Scion Computer Science team also updates existing models as new information becomes available.
For more information
Forecaster licences are available for purchase, with pricing on a per-hectare basis. To arrange a free trial, or for any further information regarding Forecaster please contact Computer Science:
Monday - Friday 8 am to 5 pm
+64 7 343 5584
Documentation• Forecaster Training Exercises and Data [3.3 MB Zip]
• Forecaster User Manual v2.2 [26.0 MB PDF]
• Forecaster Release Notes [128 kB txt]
Software and Data Installers• Forecaster v126.96.36.1997 [67.2 MB Zip]
• Spatial Data Surfaces v5.0 [80.2 MB Zip]
• Stempiece Viewer v2.0.0 [2.3 MB Zip]
• Licence Service v2.5.1 [1.4 MB Zip]