Scale of Management

There is no single scale at which to manage for biodiversity because…

  • All levels of life are interdependent and cannot be treated separately. Most definitions of biodiversity describe life as occurring in hierarchies of organization – genes, species, and ecosystems.  ‘Patterns observed at higher levels are dependent on the components and processes at lower levels and vice versa.’1
  • One single scale cannot account for all forest processes.   The elements of processes of biodiversity in forested ecosystems operate on a wide range of spatial and temporal scales as is demonstrated below.2

The scales of some forest processes.

Figure from: Boyland, M. 2003. Hierarchical planning in forestry.  Department of Forest Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.  Prepared for ATLAS-SIMFOR Project.

  • The scales used to manage forests are generally defined by human-made or jurisdictional boundaries (e.g. landscape unit, watershed, forest stand).  They do not necessarily apply to biological systems.   For example, a watershed has different boundaries if defined by managers rather than by guidelines based on hydrology.

Management objectives, planning, and monitoring for biodiversity must be at multiple levels of organization and multiple time and spatial scales…

Management plans that are applied at larger scales can have an impact at smaller scales.  Likewise, plans implemented at small scales can have consequences over a larger area.  This is readily apparent for wide-ranging organisms.  Modification of a portion of their critical habitat may cause large-scale changes in habitat use or a decline in population levels.  Thus, developing a framework that simultaneously addresses all objectives across the scales is difficult.

This website presents a form of simultaneous and hierarchical planning at various levels to attain objectives.  It is meant to simplify complex planning problems with many objectives at different scales.  Hierarchical planning uses three planning layers: strategic, tactical, and operational.

1Levin, SA. 1992. The problem of pattern and scale in ecology. Ecology 73:1943-1967.
2Bunnell, F.L. and D.J. Huggard. 1999. Biodiversity across spatial and temporal scales: problems and opportunities. Forest Ecology and Management 115:113-126.