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Economic analysis of forest management alternatives: Compositional objectives, rotation ages, and harvest methods in boreal forests

Chen, Si, Shahi, Chander, Chen, Han Y.H., McLaren, Brian
Forest policy and economics 2017 v.85 pp. 124-134
bioenergy, boreal forests, conifers, decision making, economic analysis, forest industries, harvesting, profits and margins, timber production, value-added products, wood products, Ontario
Timber production and economic gain are important forestry objectives. Boreal forests have long been an important contributor to commodity products. However, in recent decades, commercial production in the boreal forest industry is undergoing a fundamental shift from traditional wood products to multiple value-added products including residues for bioenergy production. In order to help decision makers select economically optimal forest management alternatives, we conducted an empirical study, the first of its kind, to explore the impact of varying silvicultural intensities, forest compositions, rotation ages, and harvest methods on profits in a portion of boreal forest in Northwestern Ontario. We found that silvicultural intensity, forest composition, rotation age, and harvest method significantly affected profit. The profit was on average the highest from coniferous stands, followed by mixedwood and broadleaved compositions. The profits in mixedwood stands increased continuously with rotation age using both Full-Tree to Roadside Tree-Length-to-Mill harvesting method (FT-TL) and Full-Tree to Roadside Shortwood-to-Mill method (FT-SW), and increased with rotation age but decreased at late-succession stage using Cut-to-Length method (CTL). The profits were on average higher using FT-TL than using FT-SW and CTL. The maximum profit ($3305/ha) was solved for low silvicultural intensity (conifer – conifer), with a rotation age of 100years, using the FT-TL harvest method. This analysis provides an example of finding economically optimal forest management solutions.