Multi-Objective Scheduling of Fuel Treatments to Implement a Linear Fuel Break Network

TitleMulti-Objective Scheduling of Fuel Treatments to Implement a Linear Fuel Break Network
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsBelavenutti, P, Ager, AA, Day, MA, Chung, W
Date Published12/2022
Keywordsfire management planning, forest planning, fuel break networks, Fuel breaks, multi-objective optimization, spatial optimization, technical reports and journal articles

We developed and applied a spatial optimization algorithm to prioritize forest and fuel management treatments within a proposed linear fuel break network on a 0.5 million ha Western US national forest. The large fuel break network, combined with the logistics of conducting forest and fuel management, requires that treatments be partitioned into a sequence of discrete projects, individually implemented over the next 10–20 years. The original plan for the network did not consider how linear segments would be packaged into projects and how projects would be prioritized for treatments over time, as the network is constructed. Using our optimization algorithm, we analyzed 13 implementation scenarios where size-constrained projects were prioritized based on predicted wildfire hazard, treatment costs, and harvest revenues. We found that among the scenarios, the predicted net revenue ranged from USD 3495 to USD 6642 ha−1, and that prioritizing the wildfire encounter rate reduced the net revenue and harvested timber. We demonstrate how the tradeoffs could be minimized using a multi-objective optimization approach. We found that the most efficient implementation scale was a sequence of relatively small projects that treated 300 ha ± 10% versus larger projects with a larger treated area. Our study demonstrates a decision support model for multi-objective optimization to implement large fuel break networks such as those being proposed or implemented in many fire-prone regions around the globe.