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Capsis: an open software framework and community for forest growth modelling



Forest scientists build models to simulate stand growth and forests dynamics. Dedicated computer tools are often developed to implement these models in order to run silvicultural scenarios and explore simulation results.


Our objective was to encourage software reuse and simplify model implementation.


The scheme was to develop a framework and methodology allowing to simplify the implementation, integration, simulation and comparison of forest models by providing a set of common and standard tools.


Capsis provides an open and modular software architecture based on various components, allowing to run forest growth simulations and display the results. The benefits of this framework are shown with the Samsara2 model, an individual-based and spatialised tree model. Capsis has been used successfully in many similar projects. In addition, the Capsis methodology defines how developers, modellers and end-users may interact.


The Capsis framework facilitates collaborative and shared software development. Moreover, it is a powerful way to support scientific animation in the frame of forest science.

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The success of Capsis comes from an active collaboration of the different members of the community around the developers and the authors would like to thank them for their diverse and helpful contributions. Special thanks to F.R. Bonnet for giving birth and initial success to Capsis as its first computer engineer and to H. Oswald (INRA) for his efficient work in overcoming initial administrative concerns.


Financial support to the development of the Capsis framework has been provided initially by the French Ministry in charge of forests, by INRA, ONF and AFOCEL, and, from then on, by INRA, namely in the form of permanent staff in charge of this development and of animating the collaborative network.

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Correspondence to François de Coligny.

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Handling Editor: Daniel Auclair

Electronic supplementary materials

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Online Resource 1

Capsis model list with short description, contact persons and integration starting date. An up-to-date list can be found at (ODT 31 kb)

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Dufour-Kowalski, S., Courbaud, B., Dreyfus, P. et al. Capsis: an open software framework and community for forest growth modelling. Annals of Forest Science 69, 221–233 (2012).

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  • Forestry
  • Silviculture
  • Software architecture
  • Modelling framework