Forest Informatics, Inc. and USDA-FS-PSW Redding Announce a New Hybrid Model for Young Plantations in California and Oregon

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Forest Informatics, Inc., a forestry consulting company, in partnership with USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station-Redding (PSW-Redding), announced today the release of a new variant of the popular forest growth model, CONIFERS, with the SWO-HYBRID simulator.

We want to help the next generation of forest managers glean the benefits of open-source thinking like sharing ideas, open collaboration, and producing repeatable results without losing performance, reliability, or flexibility.

Forest Informatics, Inc., a forestry consulting company, announced today, in partnership with PSW-Redding, the release of an updated CONIFERS forest growth model with the SWO-HYBRID variant and the updated interface package, rconifers, to run the model from the R environment, a freely-available and open-sourced statistical computing and graphics environment.

The new SWO-HYBRID variant of the CONIFERS model allows forest managers and researchers to evaluate plant growth with a process-driven system at the individual tree and shrub level and gives them a platform to test their assumptions about planting densities, species compositions, and vegetation management for young forests under various weather conditions. Using the CONIFERS forest growth model from within R, via rconifers, allows them to do it more efficiently and lower costs.

“Traditionally, forest simulators have required that considerable effort be put into the user interface, which meant dialog boxes, data entry and edit screens, basically too much mousing around. It meant adding lots of software development time which robbed precious resources from actually doing science. Using a open-source software development techniques, like the ones used by R, PostgreSQL, and PostGIS reduces development time, increases reliability with better testing, helps makes the scientific process repeatable, and ultimately makes for a better product,” said Jeff Hamann, CEO of Forest Informatics, Inc. “Our goal is to help the next generation of forest managers glean the benefits of open-source ideas like sharing ideas, collaborating, and quickly producing repeatable results without losing performance, reliability, or flexibility. Using open-source technologies and techniques makes it possible for us do that.”

“Since we decided to use R as our simulation platform, the results have been promising. By using a popular statistical computing language like R instead of creating stand alone software, we no longer have to focus on the user interface. If you can use R, you can run the model, and access it from anywhere, anytime.” Said Martin Ritchie, a Research Statistician with the United States Department of Agriculture's Forest Service Silviculture Laboratory in Redding, California. “Our partnership with Forest Informatics allow us to focus on the research so we can assist forest managers and inform the analysis process. I conduct the research and they [Forest Informatics] take care of the code. It's an efficient use of skills, and everybody wins.”

The latest variant, named SWO-HYBRID, combines the efforts of the first and original CONIFERS variant in the model series (SWO), which is used to simulate young forest growth at the individual tree level in Southwestern Oregon and Northern California; and a new research effort in which the hybrid architecture can be evaluated. The addition of this new variant now brings the total number of variants in the software to three. The latest version (version 1.0.7) of the CONIFERS forest growth package for R can be downloaded from the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN).

About Forest Informatics

Forest Informatics provides decision support and optimization software and specialized training to forestland owners, managers, and investors. The company uses open source software to deliver cost effective ready-to-use geospatial analysis, planning, and optimization software to land managers, owners, and investors in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. For more information see

About USDA Forest Service, PSW Redding

One of five of the USDA Forest Service’s research and development units, the Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) develops and communicates science needed to sustain forest ecosystems and other benefits to society. It has laboratories and research centers in California, Hawai‘i and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands. For more information, visit PSW's Redding laboratory, co-located with the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Supervisors Office, is in the heart of northern California's forest industry. Scientists there are carrying on a heritage of research begun by scientists at the Station's headquarters dating back to the 1930's. PSW has had a research laboratory in Redding since 1964.

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Jeff Hamann
Martin Ritchie

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