Current issue: 53(4)
Heuristic techniques have been increasingly used to address the complex forest planning problems over the last few decades. However, heuristics only can provide acceptable solutions to difficult problems, rather than guarantee that the optimal solution will be located. The strategies of neighborhood, hybrid and reversion search processes have been proved to be effective in improving the quality of heuristic results, as suggested recently in the literature. The overall aims of this paper were therefore to systematically evaluate the performances of these enhanced techniques when implemented with a simulated annealing algorithm. Five enhanced techniques were developed using different strategies for generating candidate solutions. These were then compared to the conventional search strategy that employed 1-opt moves (Strategy 1) alone. The five search strategies are classified into three categories: i) neighborhood search techniques that only used the change version of 2-opt moves (Strategy 2); ii) self-hybrid search techniques that oscillate between 1-opt moves and the change version of 2-opt moves (Strategy 3), or the exchange version of 2-opt moves (Strategy 4); iii) reversion search techniques that utilize 1-opt moves and the change version of 2-opt moves (Strategy 5) or the exchange version of 2-opt moves (Strategy 6). We found that the performances of all the enhanced search techniques of simulated annealing were systematic and often clear better than conventional search strategy, however the required computational time was significantly increased. For a minimization planning problem, Strategy 6 produced the lowest mean objective function values, which were less than 1% of the means developed using conventional search strategy. Although Strategy 6 performed very well, the other search strategies should not be neglected because they also have the potential to produce high-quality solutions.
Finding an optimal solution of forest management scheduling problems with even flow constraints while addressing spatial concerns is not an easy task. Solving these combinatorial problems exactly with mixed-integer programming (MIP) methods may be infeasible or else involve excessive computational costs. This has prompted the use of heuristics. In this paper we analyze the performance of different implementations of the Simulated Annealing (SA) heuristic algorithm for solving three typical harvest scheduling problems. Typically SA consists of searching a better solution by changing one decision choice in each iteration. In forest planning this means that one treatment schedule in a single stand is changed in each iteration (i.e. one-opt move). We present a comparison of the performance of the typical implementation of SA with the new implementation where up to three decision choices are changed simultaneously in each iteration (i.e. treatment schedules are changed in more than one stand). This may allow avoiding local optimal. In addition, the impact of SA - parameters (i.e. cooling schedule and initial temperature) are tested. We compare our heuristic results with a MIP formulation. The study case is tested in a real forest with 1000 stands and a total of 213116 decision choices. The study shows that when the combinatorial problem is very large, changing simultaneously the treatment schedule in more than one stand does not improve the performance of SA. Contrarily, if we reduce the size of the problem (i.e. reduce considerably the number of alternatives per stand) the two-opt moves approach performs better.