Master's thesis: Organization

Is there an answer to mapping old growth?

An examination of two projects conducted with remote sensing and GIS

Robert A. Norheim

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Chapter One sets the scene of the old growth controversy. Major decisions about the remaining old growth in the Northwest were being made, by Congress and the courts. However, they were operating in a vacuum as far as the amount and extent of the old-growth forest in question. Hence, the two mapping projects were spawned.

Chapter Two describes the background and cultures of the institutions involved - the Forest Service and Pacific Meridian Resources versus The Wilderness Society and Peter Morrison and his team. I focus on those aspects of the Forest Service and The Wilderness Society that came to bear in the spotted owl controversy, and those aspects of their cultures that may have played a role in the conduct of the mapping projects.

Chapter Three describes the problem of defining exactly what old-growth forest is, and several attempts to make such a definition. The definition of old growth was contentious for some time, as the Forest Service tended see old growth only for its value as sawtimber and not for its value as an ecosystem. Pacific Meridian Resources and Morrison both adapted the same Forest Service ecological definition as a base for their mapping projects.

Chapter Four describes the technical details of the mapping projects, from data sources to procedures to error checking. The information is derived from published reports about the project as well as interviews with the personnel involved.

Chapter Five records the author's investigation into the two datasets, examining how they differ in terms of amount and location of old growth. A critical examination of the procedures used by the two projects is included, as well as a description of the further uses to which the data and procedures were put.

Chapter Six draws the threads together. How did the institutional background, as described in Chapter Two, affect the decisions made in conducting the projects, as described in Chapters Three and Four? How did the differences in the two projects manifest themselves in a direct comparison, as performed in Chapter Five? How did they apply the definition of old growth? How does the further uses the data and techniques were put to, as described in Chapter Five, reflect upon the conduct of the projects? The Chapter ends with some concluding remarks and recommendations for future research.

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Last updated: August 28, 1996
Copyright 1996 Robert A. Norheim