AiS Challenge Team Interim Report

Team Number: 007

School name: Albuquerque Academy

Area of Scence: Forestry

Project Title: Modeling Southwestern Silviculture



Meghan McHenry
Alex MacLennan
Laura Nellums

Problem Definition:

Determining how to harvest a lumber forest can be costly and time consuming. In some cases it requires a forestry professional to decide which trees are best for harvest. Harvest difficulty is created by the number of variables that must be considered. It may be possible for forest owners to determine a harvest pattern for their own forests with a little help from a computer program. Our project is to create a program that will receive an input of several variables, and output a forest grid, marked with trees to leave and trees to cut. A tool such as this program could save forest owners a great deal of time and money, and may lead to more profitable and efficient harvests. Problem solution:

Because there are so many potential variables in our problem, it will be necessary for us to experiment with a wide range of algorithms, in order to find one that can accommodate several variables. It may not be possible to include many of the variables involved in timber harvest into our problem. The eventual output of the program, a forest grid, may only be one of many potential harvest plans, but we want to be certain that the variables we do include are specific enough to make the problem solution as efficient and concise as possible. Our program will require the use of arrays, which allow a lot of information to be stored and retrieved quickly and easily. We chose to use Java to write our program because it will be the easiest and most effective way to work with arrays. It will likely become necessary for us to use more than one algorithm to solve our problem. It is also likely that some of the algorithms will need to run at the same time, requiring a supercomputer. Progress to date:

Experts currently working on similar forestry problems spend years studying in their field, we have had a few short months. In these past months, however, we have gathered a lot of information on forests, wood, soil, trees, silviculture (the agriculture of trees), the timber industry, and forest harvesting. We have narrowed our project to include western forests only. We quickly discovered that we would not be able to complete the project without help, and have contacted experts in environmental science, horticulture, and forestry, as well as US forest service representatives. We have also learned more about Java and begun to plan how we will structure our program. The more we learn about Java, the more we are able to plan out a plausible program. Expected results:

Our complete program will display a reasonably accurate model of a forest, based on input specifications, which will be marked with information on which trees in the forest are best to cut down and sell. This information will be based on the region of the forest, pattern for natural forest destruction (such as fire and insect damage), forest density, and approximate tree age. In addition to increasing harvest efficiency and decreasing harvest cost, the extra help of a forest model should allow forest owners to experiment with the forest, without harming the real forest and creating a potential need for clear cutting. An accurate forest model should be able to lead, eventually, to an increase in lumber quality and in lumber quantity. We may not realize it, but timber is one of the most important industries in America, what's good for lumber is good for us. Though our program may only be able to map southwestern forests, we hope that the concepts used in our program will be useful in developing a program capable of mapping virtually any forest. The real challenge of the concept we are dealing with is making it practical. We may be able to run it on a supercomputer for the purposes of this project, but our long term goal is that the experience of this project will provide us with the knowledge we need to continue improving our program, while at the same time simplifying it enough to be PC compatible. After all, what is the worth of an education if it does not continue beyond the first test. Bibliography Web Pages First accessed: 10-23-01 http:// First accessed: 10-23-01 First accessed: 10-23-01 http:// First accessed: 10-23-01 First accessed:10-23-01 First accessed: 10-23-01 First accessed: 10 -23-01 First accessed: 10-23-01 Books Adams, Richard C. Science With Computers. New York: Franklin Watts, 1987. Buol, S.W, F.D. Hole, and R.J. McCraken. Soil Genesis and Classification. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1989. Carter, Jack L. Trees and Shrubs of New Mexico. Silver City: Mimbres Publishing, 1997. Dick-Peddie, William A. New Mexico Vegitation Past Present and Future. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993. Dyson, Sue. Wood. New York: Thomson Learning, 1993 Kaufmann, William J. and Larry L. Smarr. Supercomputing and the Transformation of Science. New York: Scientific American Library, 1993. Page, Jake. Forest. Morristown:Silver Burdett Company, 1983. Willie, Christopher M. Opportunities in Forestry Careers. Lincolnwood:VGM Carreer Horizons, 1992.

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