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Physical soil protection in forests - insights from production-, industrial- and institutional economics

Thees, Oliver, Olschewski, Roland
Forest policy and economics 2017 v.80 pp. 99-106
climate change, decision making, economic analysis, forest damage, forest litter, forest management, forest resources, forest soils, forests, logging, planning, politics, production economics, risk, soil fertility, sustainable forestry, weather
The protection of forest soil is an issue of increasing concern to Central European forestry. The focus lies on the impact of forest harvesting machinery on soil and the resulting risks to the forest ecosystem in general and to soil fertility in particular. The economic dimension of the issue becomes increasingly apparent when wet weather hampers the planning and execution of forestry operations. Public interest has also increased: damage to the forest floor is negatively perceived by the population as well as nature conservationists, and attracts media attention. With the overall sustainability of forest management at stake, the issue entails major ecological as well as economic and political challenges. The article examines physical soil protection from various economic perspectives, focusing on (i) production economics, (ii) industrial economics and (iii) institutional economics. The findings of this comprehensive approach contribute to a better understanding of the complexity of this private and public good. Possible challenges in the future are posed by climate change and increasing demand for forest resources. These could massively exacerbate the problem of forest soil protection and drive up its costs. Further economic analysis is needed to improve decision making in soil protection to ensure sustainable forest management.