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Abstract Network Simulation Engine (ANSE)

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Abstract Network Simulation Engine

The Abstract Network Simulation Engine (ANSE, formerly known as the Carbon Budget Model Framework for Harvested Wood Products [CBM-FHWP]) is not a model. It is a software engine used to run a variety of distinct user-created models. The ANSE was developed by the carbon accounting team at Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Canadian Forest Service (CFS).

Any number of custom models can be built and run for use with the ANSE. Although the ANSE is currently primarily used for modelling the carbon lifecycle in harvested wood products, the nature of its abstract modelling features makes the ANSE applicable to modelling in a wide variety of domains.

Creating a new model or adapting a pre-existing model for use with the ANSE

A user can create a new model for use with the ANSE by defining lifecycle flow networks, parameters, names, spatial and temporal references, and inputs that satisfy the scope of their data and research needs. The ANSE provides a set of generic modelling building blocks and rules which are used to define and arrange these various model components.

Users can adapt any pre-existing model built for the ANSE if the flow networks are close to meeting their analysis needs. Such re-use of an already elaborately defined model built for use with the ANSE can be a time-saving alternative compared to the larger time requirements needed to create a model for use with the ANSE from scratch.

Adapting a pre-existing model is currently the most common way that individuals use the ANSE. For the purpose of modelling the carbon lifecycle of HWPs (Harvested Wood Products), NRCan’s CBM-HWP model (see next section) is a common starting point and model that can adapted. However, a user can alternatively adapt any other HWP model designed for use with the ANSE that is better suited to their analysis.

NRCan HWP models designed for the ANSE

The carbon accounting team at the CFS has developed various ANSE-compatible HWP carbon models. The two most prominent models are the National Forest Carbon Monitoring, Accounting, and Reporting System for Harvested Wood Products (NFCMARS-HWP) model and the Carbon Budget Model for Harvested Wood Products (CBM-HWP) model.

The NFCMARS-HWP model is the model used by the carbon accounting team at the Canadian Forest Service to produce the annual HWP carbon component of Canada’s national greenhouse gas inventory report. This model simulates the flow of carbon through harvested wood product lifecycles, including (but not limited to):

  • considerations such as commodity production versus mill residue flows
  • produced commodity end-use and fate after retirement
  • residential and industrial bioenergy
  • uncombusted carbon
  • waste incineration
  • material-specific and climate-specific landfills
  • methane capture and flaring
  • exports
  • CO2 and CH4 emissions

The model is updated annually by the CFS, and as such, may also be referenced with a year suffix to represent a particular state of the model (e.g., NFCMARS-HWP 2022). The NFCMARS-HWP model is not publicly available.

The CBM-HWP model is a generic version of the NFCMARS-HWP model, without Canada-specific parameters, naming and geography. This model can be shared by the CFS carbon accounting team with the public for training or adaptation purposes. In addition to a user defining their own parameters, naming and spatial considerations, they can also make modifications to the model flow networks when revising it to suit their needs. When any pre-existing model designed for use with the ANSE is adapted by a user to create a new model, they are advised to also cite the original model from which their own model was created.

Forest harvest data from any source can be used to create inputs for a model derived from the CBM-HWP. One commonly used source for such inputs is the Carbon Budget Model of the Canadian Forest Sector (CBM-CFS3), a forest ecosystem carbon model freely available from Natural Resources Canada, which generates forest product pool carbon results. Modifications to the CBM-HWP model are occasionally made by the CFS, and as such, it is referenced with a year suffix to represent the year of release (e.g., CBM-HWP 2022). Those who obtain and modify a copy of the CBM-HWP model should also reference the model they obtained this way.

Other HWP models designed for the ANSE

A number of ANSE-compatible HWP models have been developed by external parties, including MitigAna and the British Columbia Harvested Wood Products, version 1 model (BC-HWPv1).

MitigAna was developed by Dr. Sheng Xie. It is an HWP carbon model designed for users to undertake mitigation analyses for different HWPs. This model includes modules with the ability to calculate substitution benefits and cascading uses.

BC-HWPv1 was developed by Caren Dymond at the British Columbia Ministry of Forests. It is an HWP carbon model for the province of British Columbia that can be used to estimate wood carbon retention and emissions over time for the American and Canadian wood markets.

Individuals interested in learning more about either of these models and their availability should contact the model creators.

Citing the ANSE and the CBM-HWP

Published references to HWP carbon model simulations using NRCan’s ANSE software should include the following:

  1. The distinct name of the HWP model simulated using the ANSE software. This can be a custom name if the user created their own model by modifying another pre-existing model, or if they have simply built their own model
  2. The name of the original NRCan HWP model that the user modified to create their custom model (if applicable)
  3. The name and version of the simulation engine software used (e.g., ANSE version 1.0)

Below are two example citations:

“The Mexico HWP model was created by modifying the CBM-HWP 2018 model to include parameters, spatial references, export regions, naming, etc., for Mexico. Simulations of the Mexico HWP model were run using ANSE version 1.0.”

“The MitigAna HWP model was created and designed by Dr. Sheng Xie, and run using ANSE version 1.0.”

The ANSE and NRCan HWP model availability and training

At this time, interested parties are asked to contact Stephen Kull for information about the availability of the ANSE software, the CBM-HWP model, or potential training opportunities. Documentation and training remain under development.

Ongoing development of the ANSE

Existing users of the ANSE v1.0 may be interested in planned improvements for the ANSE v2.0 currently in development. These planned improvements include the abilities to set discrete target quantities and materials for life cycle events, define secondary life cycle event behaviour after targets are met, track unrealized targets, and partition the contents of blended pools according to material classification. Models that are already built for the ANSE v1.0 will be easily portable for use with the ANSE v2.0. The completion and release dates for the ANSE v2.0 have not yet been determined.

Carbon accounting team news

Subscribe to receive the latest news from Natural Resources Canada’s carbon accounting team, including news about software releases and updates, training, webinars, publications, and media. To subscribe, email Stephen Kull with the word ‘subscribe’ in the subject line.


Natural Resources Canada’s Abstract Network Simulation Engine (ANSE) version 1.0 software, the harvested wood product models designed for it and citation recommendations.

Canadian Forest Service publications
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