Operations research in support of forest management on the Olympic Peninsula

  • Thu Mar 21st, 2019 7:28pm
  • News

By Sándor F. Tóth,

University of Washington, Seattle Education and Outreach, UW/ ONRC / Precision Forestry Coop

Is it possible to maximize the provision of ecosystem services such as wildlife habitat, carbon or clean water in managed forests with no effect on timber revenues?


Can we reduce the risk of wildfires, wind throw, or insect infestations without compromising other forest functions?

Probably not.

What Sándor Tóth’s models can do, however, is to quantify the tradeoffs behind such competing management objectives. The resulting information, Dr. Tóth argues, can help make better decisions with scarce natural resources.

Sándor Tóth of the UW’s School of Environmental & Forest Sciences will be an Evening Talk speaker at the Olympic Natural Resource Center in Forks on March 28 at 7 p.m. He will discuss his prior work in the Olympic Experimental State Forest, as well as his ongoing research in harvest scheduling in the face of uncertainty.

His goal is to start a conversation with forest landowners, managers, agencies and other stakeholders on the Peninsula about what new advances in operations research might have in store for our community. Dr. Tóth has no illusions about the gap between academic research and practical forestry. Neither is he blind to the socioeconomic tension between rural vs. urban Washingtonians. “Putting the best science on the ground”, however, is not an empty phrase for him. Being a member of the UW’s Precision Forestry Coop, “it is part of my job,” he says.


Using the Upper Clearwater as an example, Dr. Tóth will discuss how integrated optimization of harvest- and road maintenance decisions can lead to both smaller environmental footprints and greater net revenues. Mitigating edge effects due to increased wind throw or regeneration shading via spatial harvest optimization is another example of his past work at the OESF that will be covered.

Dr. Tóth’s current work in stochastic optimization of forest management in the face of climate change and other uncertainties will be the focus of the second part of the talk. In this context, he plans to touch upon such practical issues as adaptive management, or the calculation of the appropriate discount rates and risk premiums for forest management decisions. Again, Dr. Tóth’s goal is to start a productive discourse about issues that are important to forest stakeholders on the Peninsula and can benefit from scientific input as well.


Dr. Tóth is a Dipl. Forest Engineer, originally from Hungary, who is currently Associate Professor of Natural Resource Informatics at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental & Forest Sciences and Executive Director of the Symposium on Systems Analysis in Forest Resources.

He also holds an adjunct appointment at the Dept. of Industrial Engineering and is a former Fulbright Scholar at the University of Chile’s Institute for Complex Systems Engineering. Dr. Tóth’s expertise is spatial optimization and multi-criteria decision analysis as these subjects pertain to forest management and environmental problems. He teaches forest management, forest economics and optimization at the University of Washington. Dr. Tóth worked as a field forester for 5 years at the Hungarian Forest Service before embarking on an academic career.

Precision Forestry Coop:

Lead by Director Prof. Moskal, the Coop’s mission is to develop advanced technology solutions to improve the quality & reliability of information needed for planning, implementation, & monitoring of natural resource management, and to ensure sustainable forest management.

Please join us! Evening Talks at ONRC is funded through the Rosmond Forestry Education Fund, an endowment that honors the contributions of Fred Rosmond and his family to forestry and the Forks community. Refreshments will be served and a potluck of your favorite dessert is encouraged.

For more information contact Frank Hanson at 360-374-4556 or [email protected]