Optimizing spatial and temporal aspects of nature reserve design under economic and ecological objectives Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/vm40xv612

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  • Alteration of natural areas in attempts to support increasing human populations has been a crucial yet less publicized contributor to the fall of many of the world's greatest civilizations, since healthy ecosystems can help maintain stable societies and economies. Given this unhappy fact and the ancient relationship between people and the natural world, it may be surprising that science has only recently begun to holistically-study the linkages among the social, economic, and ecological aspects of human society. This dissertation seeks to contribute a small piece to the growing body of knowledge about what might be socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable. Tools from ecology and economics are brought together in realistic modeling frameworks to explore interactions, and operations research techniques are employed to find solutions to complex problems that the human mind can only partially comprehend. In particular, the work builds by designing fixed-site reserve systems with attention to spatial design in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 extends the model by incorporating a simplistic economic aspect - maximizing combinations of ecological objectives subject to constraints on the total purchase price. However, the permanent restriction of economic activities in some areas might be excessive if accompanied by an ecologically-sensitive set of spatial and temporal management actions. Chapters 4 and 5 generalize the concept of reserve design by simulating the reactions of populations of two vertebrates to timber production on a 1.7 million hectare landscape over a 100 year planning horizon. Theoretical production relationships between ecological and economic outputs were found, and tradeoffs between outputs were identified. Policies relating to timber production and species survival were implemented, and their resultant degree of inefficiency could be directly calculated. This dissertation demonstrates how combining ecological and economic models with operations research techniques could be used to better manage the natural resource base. By providing a means for identifying tradeoffs, more defensible decisions can be made, approaching alternatives that might be socially sustainable.
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