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The SExI Forest Simulator focuses on tree-tree interactions in a mixed multi-species agroforest. The high level of structural complexity of such traditional agroforestry systems defies classical forestry approaches when it comes to optimizing management practices. To cope with this complexity, farmers have adopted a tree-by-tree management approach, which is closer to gardening than to any usual tropical forestry or estate crop management model. Individual tree care and regular tending takes the form of seedlings transplanting, selective cleaning and felling, adjusted harvesting intensity.
Farmers' approach appears to be in line with two basic tenets of biology: first, individuals are all different with behavior and physiology that result from a unique combination of genetic and environmental influence, and second, interactions are inherently local. Based on the same premises a computer model was developed to explore different management scenarios.
The model uses an object-oriented approach where each tree is represented by an instance of a generic class of tree. The simulated object trees, mimicking real trees, interact through modifying their neighbors' environment. These modifications are mediated through two major resources: space and light. A 3D representation of a one-hectare plot of forest serves as the grounds for the simulation of this competition.