Landscape Modeling

Landscape Modeling

Research and management of forests, rangelands, and grasslands often involve questions about what conditions are likely under different types of human interventions and natural processes. INR provides insights into such questions through the use of landscape modeling techniques. A wide variety of landscape modeling systems have been created, and INR staff have developed expertise in Syncrosim, LANDIS-II, and FVS modeling systems. 

Syncrosim (formerly VDDT, Path) is a state and transition modeling system, which has been widely used for national forest planning in the US. It allows users to simulate landscape dynamics by creating a number of vegetation classes (e.g. early seral open, mid-seral closed canopy, late-seral closed) and a variety of transitions that move conditions from one class to another (e.g. normal growth, low intensity fire, variable retention harvest). These transitions are given probabilities, from empirical data or management prescriptions, and the model is then run to a chosen future year, calculating transitions and the resulting landscape at each time step. 

LANDIS-II is a landscape-level ecosystem model that allows users to simulate forest growth and succession and a wide variety of disturbances (such as harvesting, wildfire, and biological disturbance agents) spatially across large extents (thousands to millions of hectares) through time (decades or centuries) while integrating in climate change.  Trees and shrubs are modeled as species-age cohorts and each species has its own characteristics (e.g., shade tolerance, fire tolerance, water and light requirements). 

FVS is a tree level statistical growth and mortality model developed by the USDA Forest Service.



  • NW Forest Plan (2023-). INR is supporting the USDA Forest Service with modeling alternatives for a potential update to this amendment affecting 19 national forests in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Black Hills National Forest Plan (2022-). Modeling alternatives for the forest plan revision using ST-Sim.
  • USFS-R3 Climate Change (2022-2023). a modeling integration project that unites results from different spatial scales (FVS and MC2) into the Syncrosim framework to create future projections of vegetation conditions under climate change.
  • Integrated Landscape Assessment Project (2009-2011). INR worked with the USDA Forest Service and other partners to map current vegetation across Oregon/Washington and Arizona/New Mexico and create state-and-transition models to model landscape management alternatives across these states.