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John Bolte
Department of
  Biological &
  Ecological Engineering
Oregon State University

116 Gilmore Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331
Phone: (541) 737-2041
Email: boltej at engr.orst.edu


Envision Southern Willamette - Coupled Natural and Human Systems

Download Envision Datasets for the Eugene Study Area IDU coverage (1GB)and the Eugene Study Area Inputs (55MB)

Draft Scenario Results are available here

This page describes an effort using Envision to assess the future effects of climate change on coupled natural/human systems in two study areas in the Willamette Valley. Our goal is to identify policies that reduce fire hazard and the loss of imperiled ecosystems by exploring the coupled effects of climatic and human-induced landscape changes on wildfire hazard and biodiversity.  Working in western Oregon’s rapidly changing Willamette Valley Ecoregion (WVE), we are investigating human/natural systems by linking models of how climate change affects forest succession and wildfire in historic grassland/savanna ecosystems with Envision.  We contrast conventional predict-then-act approaches with our explore-then-test approach in which we build a transferable analysis platform that allows us to: a) explore large numbers of alternative future landscapes; b) seek robust rather than optimal alternatives for reducing risk of wildfire and biodiversity loss given the deep uncertainties of local manifestations of future climate change; and c) identify land management policies that facilitate such robustness.

We employ an approach that downscales from the coarse scales Dynamic Global Vegetation Models to the fine scales at which human land use and management decisions are made, and then scales back up to represent the landscape-scale effects of human actions on vegetation and fire hazard.  Through the use of an agent-based model, individual decision makers respond to a suite of factors including climate, land use regulation and incentives, land markets, fire hazard, land management costs and aesthetics.  Agent behaviors are parameterized probabilistically based on a survey of study area landowners as well as census and other local data. 

We test three hypotheses: 1) climate change will lead to altered fuel loads and greater wildfire hazard at fine spatial extents in the WVE; 2) current WVE land use trajectories will lead to increased wildland-urban interface area and changes in vegetation that together increase the risk of wildfire and loss of imperiled ecosystems; and 3) some policy sets will be more robust than others in reducing fire risk and sustaining imperiled ecosystems across a range of future climate scenarios.
Within this framework we will test a range of plausible future scenarios that vary across three dimensions: 1) different combinations of AOGCMs and emissions scenarios, 2) different land use scenarios that accommodate projected increases in human populations, and 3) different land management scenarios in which landowner’s are encouraged to reduce fire hazard and conserve or restore imperiled prairie and oak ecosystems through a variety of accepted policy mechanisms.

Study Areas: We are examining two study areas, in Linn and Lane Counties, OregonLebanon Study AreaEugene Study Area

OSU   UOregonNSFForest Service

Collaborators include: Bart R. Johnson (1), Robert G. Ribe (1), David W. Hulse (1), John P. Bolte (2), Scott D. Bridgham(1), Gabriel I. Yospin (1), Timothy Sheehan (1), Max Nielson-Pincus (1), Alan A. Ager (3), Jane A. Kertis (4), Dominique Bachelet (2), Ronald P. Neilson (4), David Conklin (2), Constance A. Harrington (5) and  Peter J. Gould (5).

(1) University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, (2) Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, (3) USDA Forest Service, Prineville, OR, (4) USDA Forest Service, Corvallis, OR, (5) USDA Forest Service, Olympia WA