Forest diversity promoted by computer software

The Zonation decision analysis tool, developed by Atte Moilanen, Professor at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, is used for conservation area planning throughout the world. The Forest Biodiversity Programme METSO will now start using Zonation as well.

The Zonation decision analysis tool, developed by Atte Moilanen, Professor at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, is used for conservation area planning throughout the world. The Forest Biodiversity Programme METSO will now start using Zonation as well.

Zonation, in use in Madagascar, New Zealand and the United States, for example, is a computing-method-based computer software capable of effectively processing large amounts of different data related to environmental values. The software collates the data and provides assessments of the most significant areas for conservation. The significant and less significant areas for conservation are highlighted in different colours on impressive map print-outs.

– Here, we do not separately review the occurrence of the Russian flying squirrel, for example, but the software compiles very diverse data in one place, says Moilanen.

Nature conservation resources are limited and conservation area planning requires making decisions: Zonation provides data to support such decisions.

Zonation and the METSO programme

METSO is a forest diversity promotion programme for private forest owners to voluntarily protect the diversity of their forests.

The METSO programme will first apply Zonation to the forests of Southern Savo. Moilanen is showing an analysis prepared in the Pieksämäki region. The analysis directly indicates which areas have a particularly good conservation value.

In addition to forest structure and quality, the nature conservation value of the locations is affected by the areas' mutual connections and the connections to the existing network of nature conservation areas.

– The METSO programme pays compensation to forest owners if they voluntarily hand over their land for conservation. However, the number of forests offered is so high that not everyone can be included in the programme. In such cases, the assessments provided by Zonation make it easier for administrative personnel to make decisions.

The research team led by Moilanen is part of the Centre of Excellence in Metapopulation Biology led by Academy Professor Ilkka Hanski, which was recently again appointed as a Centre of Excellence. Last autumn, Moilanen received the five-year ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council.

Website of Professor Atte Moilanen »»

Biodiversity Informatics and Conservation Group »»

METSO Programme »»

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Text: Kirsikka Mattila
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
28.6.2011
Translation: AAC Global
University of Helsinki, digital communications


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