Looking for Forestry Acti

Steven Ross Shook woodlab at u.washington.edu
Fri May 6 11:20:56 EST 1994


david.lloyd-jones at canrem.com (David Lloyd-Jones)
Original post:
============== 
 
DC+The grade 8 class at Glendale Jr. High in Red Deer Alberta, Canada is
  +doing a comparitive study of deforestation in Brazil, Canada and other
  +areas of the world. We are particularly interested in social reasons
  +for such forestry activity.
 
david.lloyd-jones at canrem.com (David Lloyd-Jones) responds:
==========================================================
> It is often useful to pay attention to the obvious: people are cutting
> those trees down to make money.

True.
 
> Deforestation, as opposed to reforestation, is a matter of "time
> horizon."  How far ahead do people look?

True.
 
> If the person making a profit now is the same person who will want to
> make a profit many years from now, then they might reforest.  They
> might treat trees as a crop, to be planted and harvested.

False.  If the person making a profit now is the same person who will want 
to make a profit many years from now, then they WILL reforest.
 
> If the people taking the profit now have no concern for the future,
> then they will hit-and-run, strip-and-burn, snatch-and-grab, take the
> money and flee.  That's how you get deforestation.

False.  Looking at data on property rights structure and timber 
harvesting will show that replanting and future outlook is highly 
dependent on WHO owns the land that the trees are growing on (government 
vs. private land).  Compare the U.S. South (almost all commercial forest 
land is private) compared to Canada and the Pacific Northwest (where 
commercial forest land is a public good).  In the South, forests are just 
as productive as the Canadian and PNW forest land, yet replanting occurs 
on nearly ALL land.  Many forest economists feel the difference found 
here is from the lack of a vested interest in keeping public lands 
forested (i.e., property rights provide an incentive for individuals to 
replant and care for future "forest crops").

As an aside, I suggest that you (David Lloyd-Jones) not use such loaded 
and emotion filled words as "hit-and-run," "strip-and-burn," and 
snatch-and-grab."  It's not the personal gain that moves individuals 
to practice this sort of behavior...it's the structure that they are 
operating in that, in a way, forces them to operate in such a fashion.
 
> The social question, then, is how you make sure that people working in
> forestry now are also concerned about the returns to forestry in the
> future.

This can be answered by stating that all federally-owned land should be 
privatized.
 
> In general, so far, governments can think four years ahead,
> corporations can think ten or fifteen years ahead, and no organised
> groups can think ahead as far as the lifetime of a tree.

True.  You've answered the question yourself.  I'd much rather have a 
corporation thinking ten to fifteen years ahead than a government 
thinking four years ahead.  Not only will society benefit through the 
increase of societal welfare gains (in an economic sense), but also the 
forests will gain.
 
> This means we have a problem right now -- or at least the forest have
> a problem right now.
 
This is truly a subjective statement......


-Steve Shook

Center for International Trade in Forest Products
University of Washington, Seattle
College of Forest Resources
 




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