The Economics of Forestry Options to Offset the Greenhouse Effect

  • W. Neil Adger
Conference paper
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 33)


In a letter to Nature in May 1993, Sutherland and Henderson (1993) posed the question: should the land currently being set-aside from agricultural production in the UK be afforested to help offset the enhanced greenhouse effect? After energy related emissions, afforestation is the option most often discussed as a strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Afforestation is appealing because forests provide a range of ecological and economic functions. However, this perception belies the differences, in ecological and economic terms between natural forest and planted forest. The purpose of this paper is to answer simply the question posed, while highlighting the wider issues involved. If all the presently diverted land were afforested, less than one percent of the UK emissions of CO2 would be offset each year. This sequestration would only be temporary, as steady-state would be reached where upon no additional sequestration would occur. Based on current prices, and on the value of land if agricultural support were not present, the cost of abating CO2 in this fashion is estimated in the range £20–£50 per tC (£1=US $1.6). The policy is not likely to come about, however, due to the design of the set-aside policy within the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The underlying reason why afforestation will not occur is that CAP reform has the reduction of agricultural surplus production as its primary aim, with environmental enhancement and other goals trailing well behind.


European Union Carbon Sequestration Abatement Cost Common Agricultural Policy Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emission 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Neil Adger
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global EnvironmentUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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