A decision support tool for assessing the impact of climate change on multiple ecosystem services
González-Olabarria, José Ramón
Garcia Gonzalo, Jordi
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In the climate change era, forest managers are challenged to use innovative tools to encourage a sustained provision of goods and services. Many decision support tools (DSTs), developed to address global changes in forest management practices, reflect the complexity of the scientific knowledge produced, a fact that could make it difficult for practitioners to understand and adopt them. Acknowledging the importance of knowledge transfer to forestry practitioners, this study describes a user-centric decision support software tool, aiming to assess forest management and climate change impacts on multiple ecosystem services (ESs) at a stand level. SORTIE-ND, a spatially explicit tree-level simulator for projecting stand dynamics that is sensitive to climate change, is encapsulated into the decision support tool and used as the simulation engine for stand development. Linking functions are implemented to evaluate ecosystem services and potential risks, and decision support is provided in form of interactive 2D and 3D visualizations. Five main components were identified to delineate the workflow and to shape the decision support tool: the information base, the alternative generator, the forest simulator, the ecosystem services calculator, and the visualization component. In order to improve the interaction design and general user satisfaction, the usability of the system was tested at an early stage of the development. While we have specifically focused on a management-oriented approach through user-centric interface design, the utilization of the product is likely to be of importance in facilitating education in the field of forest management.