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The Forest Sector: Important Innovations


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  • Sedjo, Roger

    (Resources for the Future)


Unlike other resources such as petroleum, coal, and copper, forests are renewable. Yet, in many respects forests historically have been treated as a nonrenewable resource in that forest stocks were depleted or "mined" and loggers moved on to exploit other "deposits." The lands were often put to other uses, typically agricultural, or allowed to regenerate naturally. This paper looks at technical change in forest extraction, i.e., logging under a number of different conditions. It finds that, on average, labor productivity has been increasing in recent decades. However, total factor productivity in the US has declined in recent years. In addition, the study examines the tree-growing potential of plantation forestry. It finds that there is underway a substantial shift away from the harvesting of old-growth forests and toward intensive forest plantations. Plantations allow for high productivity in tree growing and are being used to offset decreased wood availability due to the inaccessibility and high costs of many old- and second-growth forests. The decreased accessibility reflects not only the impacts of past logging but, perhaps more importantly, the increase in forests in protected area set-asides. Additionally, natural forests face increasingly stringent regulations on logging and forest management activities. High-yield intensively managed forests, on well located, high productivity sites, offer the potential of obtaining high yields while using relatively small land areas by allowing the near full output potential of practices including species selection, fertilization and pest control. Finally, tree planting creates the opportunity to apply genetic improvements to the tree stock thereby further increasing growth productivity and allowing for control of tree characteristics.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-97-42.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 1997
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-97-42

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  1. Solow, Robert M, 1974. "The Economics of Resources or the Resources of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 1-14, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Terheggen, Anne, 2010. "The new kid in the forest: the impact of China's resource demand on Gabon's tropical timber value chain," MPRA Paper 37982, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Centre for the Study of Living Standards, 2003. "Productivity in the Forest Products Sector: A Review of the Literature," CSLS Research Reports 2003-02a, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
  3. Mälkönen, Ville, 2006. "Optimal forest conservation: The role of green-image demand and investments," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 51-73, March.
  4. Das, Gouranga Gopal & Alavalapati, Janaki, 2001. "Trade-mediated biotechnology transfer and its effective absorption: an application to the U.S. forestry sector," MPRA Paper 37254, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Feb 2002.
  5. Seeland, Klaus & Godat, Joël & Hansmann, Ralf, 2011. "Regional forest organizations and their innovation impact on forestry and regional development in central Switzerland," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 353-360, June.
  6. Parry, Ian, 1997. "Productivity Trends in the Natural Resource Industries," Discussion Papers dp-97-39, Resources For the Future.
  7. Managi, Shunsuke, 2005. "Evaluation And Policy Analysis Of Japanese Forestry," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19358, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).


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