Landscape Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 377–395 | Cite as

Using operating area size and adjacency constraints to mitigate the effects of harvesting activities on boreal caribou habitat

  • Guillaume Cyr
  • Frédéric Raulier
  • Daniel Fortin
  • David PothierEmail author
Research Article



Sustained timber harvesting conflicts with the long-term viability of boreal caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) populations. The spatial arrangement of harvest blocks in the landscape could mitigate the impact of logging on caribou populations. For the forest industry, however, these measures represent constraints that reduce the annual allowable cut (AAC).


Estimate the long-term impacts of spatial constraints to harvesting, applied alone or in combination, on AAC and boreal caribou populations.


We divided a 30,000 km2 region into 20 harvest block sizes varying from 50 to 1000 km2, and modeled the implementation of spatially explicit harvest schedule plans in combination with wildfire and caribou population dynamics. We then evaluated the probability of persistence of boreal caribou populations.


The probability of maintaining an AAC target declined with increasing target AAC, increasing size of operating area, and increasing adjacency constraints. In contrast, the probability of maintaining caribou populations declined with increasing AAC, decreasing size of operating areas, and decreasing adjacency constraints. An increase in operating area size from 50 to 300 km2 produced a considerable gain in AAC for all adjacency constraints.


Because adjacency constraints led only to a small increase in the probability of maintaining caribou populations, we recommend adopting less constraining landscape management actions, such as a 70-year period between two consecutive harvests in the same ~300-km2 operating area.


Caribou population dynamics Landscape dynamics Harvesting scenarios Annual allowable cut Timber supply optimization Landscape disturbance 



We thank the NSERC-Laval University Industrial Research Chair in Silviculture and Wildlife for providing financial support for this Project. We are grateful to François Lévesque and Marc Bédard (Resolute Forest Products), and Jacques Duval (Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec) for their help in defining many assumptions that were used in the harvest simulations, to Mathieu Bouchard (Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec) for providing the fire history map, and to Hakim Ouzennou for drawing Fig. 1. We also thank William F. J. Parsons (Centre d’étude de la forêt), Robert Scheller and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions on the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Étude de la Forêt, Département des Sciences du bois et de la forêt, Pavillon Abitibi-PriceUniversité LavalQuebecCanada
  2. 2.Centre d’Étude de la Forêt, Département de biologie, Pavillon Alexandre-VachonUniversité LavalQuebecCanada

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