||PLANS - Preliminary Logging Analysis
|A product of the USDA Forest Service,
Pacific Northwest Research Station
PLEASE NOTE: PLANS will not run on 64-bit versions of Windows. This includes any version of Windows newer than Vista. I no longer have the ability
to recompile the programs hence cannot make them run on modern versions of Windows
The entire PLANS package consists of two files: INSTALL.EXE and
EXPORT.EXE, contains utility programs to convert PLANS
data files into other formats and to convert selected GIS data formats
into formats compatible with PLANS. You should retrieve and install this
file if you are working with any data files produced by a GIS. See
README.EXPORT for more information.
EXAMPLE.EXE contains example data for use with
The distibution contains very little documentation. For the most part,
PLANS is very user-friendly. There is some printed documentation available
AN OVERVIEW OF PLANS: PRELIMINARY LOGGING ANALYSIS SYSTEM
Robert J. McGaughey
USDA Forest Service
Pacific Northwest Research Station
University of Washington, Bloedel 361
P.O. Box 352100
Seattle, WA 98195-2100
This paper presents PLANS (Preliminary Logging Analysis System), a family
of computer programs designed to facilitate the development of timber harvest
plans for large areas. PLANS supports strategic level planning for areas
ranging in size from 2,000 to 20,000 hectares (4,942 to 49,420 acres).
Activity schedules for harvest plans developed with PLANS typically span
from 5 to 25 years. PLANS relies on digital terrain models (DTM) to provide
elevation data to support the analysis of cable logging payload, highlead
system yarding reach, ground slope and aspect, and perspective scenes depicting
the landscape and harvest plan features. PLANS interacts with databases
stored in geographic information systems (GIS) by importing several DTM
formats and by exporting harvest plan related line, point, and polygon
features in formats suitable for inclusion in GIS data layers.
Keywords: Harvest planning, cable logging, digital terrain model
Successful harvesting in steep terrain requires a thorough planning effort.
The harvest system selected for the operation, the silvicultural treatment,
and the placement of the harvest system on the terrain influence the economic
and environmental success of timber harvesting operations. In the case
of cable yarding systems, proper positioning of the cable span permits
hauling an ample volume of logs in each yarding cycle resulting in higher
production and lower costs while minimizing environmental damage. Improper
positioning results in excessive soil disturbance, reduced production,
equipment breakdown, unsafe operations, or overall inoperable harvest units.
The quality of a timber harvest plan and the actual harvest operation depends
on the planner's thoroughness, which is influenced by time constraints,
management support, and available planning tools.
The term "harvest planning" can encompass a wide range of activities
and outcomes. Long-range planning, often spanning several rotations (150
+ years), generally prescribes land allocation strategies and does not
necessarily provide a spatially feasible solution (Nelson et al 1991).
A more site specific approach, known as area-based planning, involves determination
of specific harvest areas that have a unique geographic location and subsequent
scheduling of the harvest and road construction activities. PLANS supports
area-based planning. As a precursor to harvest unit and road scheduling
using network solution techniques (Sessions 1987), PLANS enables users
to rapidly design and delineate timber harvest units and road access to
timber over extensive areas. Area-based planning that begins with well-designed
harvest units and transportation systems can proceed on a solid foundation.
The individual harvest units and road alternatives form the foundation
of the final management plan, and PLANS helps ensure the operability and
soundness of this foundation.
The scenario described for area-based planning varies according to organizational
structure and goals. However, some basic considerations of timber harvest
planning transcend the details of planning jurisdiction. One basic consideration
is the influence of topography on the cost and efficiency of timber harvesting.
Topography affects most activities associated with timber harvesting, from
felling and yarding to road and landing construction. Timber harvest planners
therefore need detailed topographic information. This need has been traditionally
met by topographic maps and aerial photographs. Reasonably accurate maps
with scales ranging from 1:4,800 to 1:24,000 and contour intervals of 15
meters (50 feet) or less provide an excellent foundation for planning.
Using such maps, planners can visualize steepness, ridges, valleys, benches,
and profiles of the terrain in sufficient detail to develop operable harvest
and transportation plans. The organization and storage of topographic information
in a computer usable form is paramount to the success of any harvest planning
Burke (1974) suggested using a digital terrain model (DTM) to supply topographic
data for harvest planning. A DTM is an organized data file containing elevations
that represent the ground surface. A DTM, coupled with the appropriate
software, can provide nearly instantaneous access to a virtually unlimited
number of ground profiles. Young and Lemkow (1976) developed a prototype
timber harvest planning system that used a DTM. Their planning system proved
that harvest planning using DTM data was practical. However, their system,
limited by computing horsepower, did not provide an operational solution
to large area planning problems. Reimer (1979) reported that an operational
harvest planning system using DTM data was successfully implemented by
McMillan Bloedel, Ltd., in Canada. Twito and Mifflin (1982) distributed
an early version of PLANS to USDA Forest Service sites and industrial sites
with compatible computer hardware. Reutebuch and Evison (1984) reported
on an operational system using DTM data for planning cable logging system
layout available in New Zealand. Twito and others (1987) distributed an
update of PLANS that was operational on a Hewlett-Packard 32-bit workstation.
This system provides the analytical foundation for the IBM-PC version of
PLANS discussed in this paper.
OVERVIEW OF PLANS
PLANS is a set of computer programs designed to assist logging engineers
and transportation planners as they develop timber harvest plans for large
areas. Typical candidate areas for application of PLANS range from 2,000
to 20,000 hectares (4,942 to 49,420 acres) with planned harvest activities
spanning from 5 to 25 years. PLANS allows the planner, aided by an interactive
computer system, to examine a wide range of design and planning options--a
range not possible with earlier planning methods. PLANS, although it does
not fully automate the design process, enhances the planner's ability to
develop technically sound timber harvest plans. A fundamental concept underlying
PLANS is the use of a digital terrain model to provide topographic data
needed for harvest planning and transportation system development. By using
a DTM to represent the ground surface, PLANS can quickly generate ground
profiles, ground slope information, aspect information, and general land
form characteristics for use during the development of a harvest plan.
In the United States, DTM data are typically available in the form of United
States Geological Survey (USGS) digital elevation models (DEM) that correspond
to the standard 7.5-minute quadrangle map series. The USGS DEM data are
arranged in a 30 by 30 meter (98.43 by 98.43 feet) grid with a vertical
accuracy classified as either 7 meter (22.97 feet) RMSE or 15 meter (49.22
feet) RMSE. In general, these data are sufficient for use with PLANS. An
analysis of the adequacy of USGS DEM data for timber harvest planning (McGaughey
and Twito 1988) showed that USGS DEM data were sufficient for area-based
analysis, where the emphasis is on harvest and transportation system feasibility.
However, the large grid spacing and possible inaccuracies in the data can
present problems for PLANS users who want to develop a detailed plan for
individual harvest units.
For areas where USGS DEM coverage does not exist, DTM data must come
from an outside source. PLANS does not provide a tool to develop digital
terrain models. However, the current version of PLANS can read DTM data
from several sources. The underlying requirement for DTM data to be used
with PLANS is that is must be stored using a gridded structure. For sites
using Arc/Info GIS software (version 6.0), the LATTICEDEM command is available
to convert an Arc/Info lattice file into a USGS DEM file (ESRI 1991).
Figure 1. PLANS uses an on-screen contour
map to help users visualize the digital terrain model.
PLANS employs a familiar interface to the topographic data, an on-screen
contour map generated from the digital terrain model (figure 1), to assist
users in visualizing the terrain data. Landings, unit boundaries, roads,
and other harvest plan components are easily located and evaluated because
users can directly specify ground locations from the on-screen contour
map. PLANS conducts engineering analyses and encourages users to investigate
several alternative treatments for a given area before selecting a specific
treatment for further evaluation or implementation. Analysis tools in PLANS
provide design feedback quickly without overwhelming the user with excessive
detail. The analysis tools attempt to provide summaries of pertinent information
to guide the planner rather than detailed reports of analysis results.
PLANS allows storage and recall of individual design components and provides
tools to integrate various components into harvest plans. Analysis modules
in PLANS share data, both input and output, to provide a seamless environment
for harvest and transportation plan development. Links to geographic information
systems (GIS), using a data formatting utility, promote the integration
of timber harvest planning information into other planning processes, e.g.,
environmental impact assessment and long- range planning.
SPECIFIC COMPONENTS OF PLANS
The following are brief descriptions of the analysis modules currently
available in PLANS. The PLANS main menu shown in figure 2 controls access
to these modules.
Figure 2. The PLANS main menu provides a
user-friendly interface to all the PLANS programs.
SKYTOWER and SKYMOBIL Programs
The SKYTOWER and SKYMOBIL programs analyze the load carrying capacity of
skyline yarding systems over terrain profiles extracted from a DTM. The
SKYTOWER program analyzes units yarded in a fan-shaped pattern to a central
tower location. The SKYMOBIL program operates on individual terrain profiles
where the yarder is moved with each yarding corridor change.
Using SKYTOWER, the planner designates a central landing by pointing
to the yarder location on the on-screen contour map. The program automatically
generates evenly spaced profiles radiating from the landing. The maximum
span over which a target load can be yarded is determined for each profile.
A planimetric plot of the resulting unit boundary is then displayed on
the computer screen (figure 3). At this point, the user can visually assess
the overall feasibility of the landing location. If all spans are short,
then either the target payload was too large or the landing was not suitable
for the yarding system. The user can modify parameters for individual profiles
to adjust the unit boundary. Possible modifications include increasing
the height of the tailhold, specifying a new tailhold location, changing
the target payload, and specifying yarding boundaries. A plan or profile
view, depending on the type of modification, shows the results of each
Figure 3. SKYTOWER displays the area that
can be yarded to a central tower location.
SKYMOBIL, like SKYTOWER, conducts profile analysis. However, SKYMOBIL
operates on single terrain profiles designated by pointing to the profile's
beginning and ending locations. The program extracts the profile from the
DTM and displays the profile on the computer screen. The planner can then
specify the yarder or tailhold location by pointing to the on-screen profile
(figure 4). SKYMOBIL can solve for either the maximum span over which a
specified target payload can be yarded, or the maximum payload that can
be yarded over a specified span. SKYMOBIL can be very useful in areas requiring
mid-slope roads. A series of parallel profiles running perpendicular to
the contour lines is analyzed to locate control points for road layout.
Figure 4. SKYMOBIL allows users to locate
the tower and tailhold on a ground profile.
The HIGHLEAD program analyzes settings yarded in a fan-shaped pattern to
a central landing. Like SKYTOWER, the HIGHLEAD program automatically analyzes
evenly spaced profiles radiating from a user-specified yarder location.
Either the first instance of blind lead along each profile or the maximum
reach of the yarder determines the yarding limit. HIGHLEAD displays the
resulting unit boundary in plan view and gives the planner the opportunity
to modify the unit boundary. HIGHLEAD allows analysis for tight-lining
(tension the haulback line to increase lift and permit yarding beyond a
point of blind lead). The planner can also specify yarding limits, change
the tailhold height, or remove profiles entirely to reduce the area included
in the unit boundary.
The VISUAL program produces perspective views of terrain, roads, harvest
units, and other harvest plan components from user-selected viewpoints.
These perspective views, such as the one shown in figure 5, provide a preview
of the visual impact of proposed management activities. VISUAL also provides
an important tool for developing an understanding of the project area.
The perspective projection of the terrain provides an intuitive picture
of the land form when compared to a topographic map and many planners find
that they are better able to identify subtle benches and other terrain
features when viewing the perspective projection.
Figure 5. VISUAL produces perspectives
of terrain and harvest plan features.
The SLOPE program produces overlays, either on-screen or hard copy plots,
that delineate areas of equal slope, aspect, or elevation within user-specified
categories. SLOPE can also produce overlays that show any combination of
topographic attributes, e.g., areas with slopes ranging from 0 to 30 percent
(0 to 17 degrees) with northerly aspect and elevations ranging from 0 to
914 meters (0 to 3000 feet). In addition to overlays, SLOPE also produces
tabular summaries of the slope, aspect, or elevation information and the
land area included in each category. These attribute overlays provide an
excellent aid for interpreting topographic maps.
The PLANCAD program allows planners to assemble various harvest plan components
into an integrated harvest plan. PLANCAD can read any design file produced
by a PLANS program and incorporate the appropriate information into a database
that represents the harvest plan. This database can be exported to other
systems, such as geographic information systems (GIS), for additional analysis.
PLANCAD can also plot harvest plan maps at any scale for use when communicating
planning results. Harvest plans can be stored and later retrieved for manipulation
or output. Harvest plans are stored as a list of references to the various
design components, so changes to individual design components are automatically
included in the harvest plan.
The MAP_REG program allows planners to register a paper map mounted on
a digitizing tablet to the on-screen contour map generated from the digital
terrain model. The lower left, lower right, and upper right corners of
the DTM boundary are digitized to register a map. Three arbitrary points
on the map whose ground coordinates are known can also be used for registration.
Any type of map can be registered using MAP_REG. For example, a map delineating
forest cover types produced by a GIS could be registered to provide this
information to the planner as they interact with the on-screen contour
The DIG_DATA program helps users enter planimetric data into PLANS. For
example, data sets describing existing transportation networks and stream
systems or a group of possible landing locations can be built using DIG_DATA.
Various modules in PLANS can access the data files to provide detailed
analysis or simply to provide additional visual information for the on-screen
contour map display.
The SQZDTM program imports digital terrain models into PLANS. PLANS uses
a very compact and somewhat unique data format to provide rapid access
to topographic information. SQZDTM translates several common DTM formats
into the format expected by PLANS. Formats include USGS DEM, SURFER (PC-based
surface analysis), TerraSoft (PC-based GIS system), and a generic ASCII
format. Any DTM used with PLANS must first be processed by SQZDTM to ensure
compatibility with the PLANS DTM format.
The GRDCONVT program translates PLANS output to a variety of other data
formats. GRDCONVT accepts a generic data format containing the (X,Y,Z)
coordinates for the data points. The coordinates can be converted to a
variety of formats including Arc/Info generate format, AUTOCAD DXF format,
MOSS import format, SURFER boundary file format, and generic ground profiles
containing horizontal distances and elevations. GRDCONVT allows PLANS users
to share their results digitally with both upstream and downstream analysis
The benefits of harvest planning are many. Dollar savings in the harvesting
and hauling cost for an area can result from several activities carried
out during the planning process. First, by using PLANS to identify the
harvesting and transportation system best suited to the local conditions,
you ensure that operations are feasible. Second, using PLANS to provide
harvest unit and road locations that provide optimum or near optimum operating
conditions for the selected harvest systems, minimizes environmental damage.
Third, by considering the interaction of harvest unit locations, road locations,
and silvicultural treatments over many time periods, scheduling conflicts
are minimized and it is possible to analyze the cumulative effects associated
with the harvest plan.
The use of an intensive preliminary harvest planning procedure ensures
that land managers have based harvesting decisions on a thorough analysis
of all available data and are seen to be doing so by concerned public groups.
In addition, the analytical tools in PLANS can provide information to help
educate the lay public about the factors that influence the success or
failure of a harvest operation. This education should not be under-valued.
Managers may find that previous adversaries are much more willing to participate
in the planning process if they are made aware of and given access to the
analysis techniques being used.
The costs of harvest planning are generally low in comparison to the
harvesting and hauling costs--generally less than one percent of the total
cost incurred to deliver timber to the market. The planning cost is justified
by the potential for saving 10 percent or more of the harvesting and transportation
costs through proper selection and application of harvesting systems (Sauder
and Nagy 1977). Economic profits are not the only justification for better
planning. The benefits of improved harvest plans are often related to better
resource protection and less damage to the environment. Additional expenditures
to support harvest planning can be justified through net benefit to the
environment, rather than simply considering harvest and transportation
planning as an added cost. Selling the concept of area-based planning can
be a difficult task. However, PLANS streamlines the area-based planning
process, reducing both the time and money required, making it possible
to implement a level of analysis and planning previously considered impossible.
COMPUTER SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS FOR PLANS
The minimum recommended computer configuration for PLANS is:
PLANS will run on a PC-XT with no math co-processor.
IBM-AT compatible computer (80286, 80386SX, 80386DX, or 80486 processor)
Hard disk (minimum of 4-6 Mbytes free space)
80X87 math co-processor
640 Kbytes RAM (512 Kbytes available after boot-up)
EGA or VGA color graphics
Microsoft or compatible mouse
PLANS will not function on computer systems equipped with monochrome
graphics adapters (Hercules or compatible clones).
PLANS supports the use of several digitizer tablets to allow the registration
of paper maps to the digital terrain model.
Burke, Doyle. 1974. Skyline logging profiles from a digital terrain model.
In: Proceedings of the 1974 skyline logging symposium; January 23-24, 1974;
Seattle, WA. Seattle, WA; University of Washington, College of Engineering.
ESRI. 1991. Arc/Info command references and user's guides. Version 6.0.
Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. Redlands, California.
McGaughey, Robert J. and Roger H. Twito. 1988. Large-area timber harvest
planning with digital elevation models. In: Proceedings of the international
mountain logging and pacific northwest skyline symposium; December 12-16,
1988; Portland, OR. (Place of publication unknown): (Publisher unknown).
p. 87-92. Sponsored by: Oregon State University, Department of Forest Engineering
and International Union of Forest Research Organizations, Mountain Logging
Nelson, John, J. Douglas Brodie and John Sessions. 1991. Integrating
short-term, area-based logging plans with long term harvest schedules.
Forest Science. 37:101-122.
Sauder, Brent J. and Michael M. Nagy. 1977. Coast logging: highlead
versus long reach alternatives. FERIC Tech. Rep. TR-19. Vancouver, BC:
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada. 51 p.
Reimer, Donald R. 1979. An operational computer assisted forest engineering
system. In: Proceedings of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations
symposium on mountain logging; September 10-14, 1979; Seattle, WA: University
of Washington, College of Forest Resources. p. 17-19.
Reutebuch, Stephen E. and David C. Evison. 1984. The cable hauler planning
package: user's guide. FRI Bull. 46. Rotorua, New Zealand: New Zealand
Forest Service, Forest Research Institute. 81 p. Sessions, John. 1987.
A heuristic algorithm for the solution of the fixed and variable cost problem.
In: Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters symposium on system
analysis in forest resources. Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA. p. 324-336.
Twito, Roger H. and Ronald W. Mifflin. 1982. Computer assisted evaluation
of skyline thinning opportunities. In: Proceedings 7306, The small tree
resource: a materials handling challenge; April 19-21, 1982; Portland,
OR. Madison, WI: Forest Products Research Society. p. 73-79.
Twito, Roger H., Stephen E. Reutebuch, Robert J. McGaughey and Charles
N. Mann. 1987. Preliminary logging analysis system (PLANS): overview. Gen.
Tech. Rep. PNW- GTR-199. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 24 p.
Young, G. Glen and Daniel Z. Lemkow. 1976. Digital terrain simulators
and their application to forest development planning. In: Proceedings of
the 1976 skyline logging symposium; December 8-10, 1976; Vancouver, BC.
Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. p. 81-99.