What does ForSys do?

ForSys is designed to help managers create spatial prioritization plans that meet predefined goals and targets, consider constraints, and compare alternative values. ForSys walks through a problem formulation – what are your priorities, how much of the landscape can you treat, what areas are restricted from treatment – and ingests spatial information on these scenario priorities, constraints and thresholds to strategically design treatment priority plans and report on treatment outcomes.


Where are you working?

Strategically designing landscape treatments requires understanding the problem spatially, including defining the planning area. ForSys works by selecting treatment units within the planning area, such as delineated forest stands or a standardized decision unit like hexagons.


How much of the landscape do you want to treat?

If we could treat everywhere we would not need a decision support tool. Most management plans are constrained by the amount of the landscape that can be treated, by budget, or by workforce capacity constraints. Any of these limits can be used in ForSys.


What are your priorities

Landscape restoration or rehabilitation treatments are usually motivated by a few explicit objectives such as targeting areas at risk of high severity fire, or where stands are overgrown or overstocked. ForSys will build projects that search for these areas.


Are there areas protected from treatment?

Protected areas can have a profound impact on the spatial distribution of treatments. ForSys considers areas where restoration or fuel reduction treatments are not permitted and removes them from the availability for treatment. For example, wilderness areas might be administratively excluded from mechanical treatments.


Do specific conditions need to be met for treatments to be allowed?

Restoration plans are usually constrained by other features of the landscape such as distance to road, slope, or proximity to threatened species.  ForSys can exclude these areas from treatment, or step through ranges of values to understand how varying the threshold (such as distance to road) affects treatment outcomes.


What outcomes do you want to measure?

While restoration treatments may be motivated by a single objective (or a few), the outcomes of treatment can be diverse. ForSys will keep track of any treatment outcomes as projects are implemented on the landscape. A scenario prioritizing the reduction of high severity fire may keep track of wildlife habitat restored, flame length reduction, acres of habitat impacted, or biomass produced, for example.


ForSys builds and prioritizes projects

Land management plans can take years to implement, making sequencing of project implementation critical to effective treatment strategies. ForSys provides a project prioritization map that indicates the areas of the landscape that should be targeted for treatment first and reports project by project outcomes.


ForSys reports scenario outcomes

Understanding the outcome and efficiency of treatment is essential to understanding how to strategically allocate limited resources.  ForSys reports how quickly treatment outcomes are achieved and how they vary across priorities or metrics of interest.  These outcomes can be further analyzed by other important factors such as forest type or land ownership.


Are there tradeoffs or compromise solutions?

Often land management plans are motivated by multiple, sometimes conflicting priorities. ForSys can model tradeoff scenarios between multiple objectives, where priorities are weighted against each other, from the extreme of prioritizing each objective on its own to looking for a balance between objectives. In this way tradeoff curves are created revealing opportunities for compromise solutions if they exist spatially on the landscape.

Start Using Our Model
This is a dynamic time for scenario investment planning given the increase in funding to dramatically increase fuels and forest health treatments in response to growing wildfire threats to people and places globally. ForSys is designed to help managers create spatial prioritization plans that meet predefined goals and targets while considering constraints to achieve them. The model was developed with an emphasis for wide application by non-technical users, and thus optimization is accomplished with a relatively simple greedy spatial heuristic instead of more complicated mathematical programming approaches used in many other planning systems. ForSys was developed for multiple platforms including windows desktop (ForSysX) and in R (ForSysR).