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New Forests

, Volume 17, Issue 1–3, pp 307–327 | Cite as

Private forest investment and long-run sustainable harvest volumes

  • Ralph J. Alig
  • Darius M. Adams
  • John T. Chmelik
  • Pete Bettinger
Article

Abstract

Private timberlands in the United States have the biological potential to provide larger quantities of timber on a sustainable basis than they do today. Most opportunities for increasing growth and harvest lie on nonindustrial private lands in the South. Past studies, based on fixed scenarios of future prices, also suggest that many of these opportunities for intensified management can be undertaken with positive economic returns. Translation of these physical and apparent economic potentials into projections of future management and harvest requires a model of private timber management investment behavior. This study examines the dynamics of investment in private forest management according to a model of timber markets and timber supply in which intertemporal levels of private investment, harvest, and timber prices are all endogenous. The results of this model are used to examine the extent and types of possible future private management investments and how these will affect timber supply. In addition, the sensitivity of these projections to variations in key market and behavioral determinants is examined through simulation of alternative scenarios involving reduced public timber harvest and constraints on planting investment of nonindustrial private owners.

The base case illustrates the substantial potential of timberlands for increased growth and harvest. This requires, however, investments in planting well beyond those observed in recent years. Given this, the area in planted forests would almost triple within the next 30 years. Expanded investment would allow immediate increases in timber harvest and sustained increases in timber inventory, with virtually no trend in softwood log prices. Projected increases in plantation area would concentrate timber production on fewer hectares, with more hectares managed passively. Naturally regenerated forests in the future would cover at least three-quarters of the private timberland area, with hardwoods continuing to dominate. Restricting nonindustrial private plantation investment to levels observed in the recent past markedly alters projections for softwoods, thus raising prices and reducing timber harvest relative to the base case across the full projection period. In contrast, reductions in public timber harvest alone result in increased prices and reduced total cut in the near term, but have limited impact on the outlook three-five decades hence, because private investment effectively compensates for public timber harvest reductions.

non-industrial forests planted forests projection models timber markets timber supply 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph J. Alig
    • 1
  • Darius M. Adams
    • 2
  • John T. Chmelik
    • 3
  • Pete Bettinger
    • 4
  1. 1.USDA Forest ServicePacific Northwest Research StationCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forest Resources, College of ForestryOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.USDA Forest ServicePacific Northwest Research StationPortlandUSA
  4. 4.Department of Forest ResourcesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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