The Economics of Logging High Conservation Value Native Forests

By Hamilton, Clive | The Economic and Labour Relations Review : ELRR, December 1995 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Economics of Logging High Conservation Value Native Forests

Hamilton, Clive, The Economic and Labour Relations Review : ELRR

1. Introduction

This paper analyses some economic aspects of the issue of logging versus preservation of high-conservation value native forests in Australia. The question of what constitutes a high-conservation value forest is a difficult one. A simple definition would be those forests determined by scientific assessment to be likely to contribute significantly to long-term maintenance of the biota and the ecosystem processes on which they rely. This implies that we retain options for evolution.

This definition covers perhaps 60-80 per cent of forests currently available for logging, including privately owned land. The 1300 coupes identified as having high-conservation value that were the source of such heated controversy over the summer of 1994-95 covered around 40 per cent of all coupes scheduled for logging in 1995 (Senator Faulkner, Media Release 20 December 1994). Some of these forests have been selectively logged at some time in the last 200 years, but they are still of high conservation value.

I will argue on economic grounds that logging should end in these forests. The reason is that the evidence strongly suggests that use of these forests for logging is causing losses in other values greater than the value of logging. In addition, the dramatic shift in the timber industry to plantation timber means that the costs of ending native forests logging are much smaller than previously thought.

I should point out, however, that I do not believe that the question of logging in high-conservation native forests is principally an economic issue. It is an ethical issue first and an economic issue second. For the great majority of the Australian public opposed to woodchipping, the issue is not one of financial compensation or of willingness to pay, but of the moral sense that too much of Australia's forests have been cut and that they mostly should be preserved for all time. Clearly, -however, the economic aspects are very important to the debate.

2. The multiplicity of values of native forests

Most people do not appear to accept that the logging of native forests is desirable simply because it supports an industry and provides jobs. We must ask at what cost the industry and the jobs are supported. It is now recognised that native forests have a multiplicity of values, and that logging in some instances compromises other values of native forests.

The principal values of native forests are:

* timber values;

* environmental values;

* water values for downstream users;

* recreational values;

* non-wood forest products; and

* cultural, scientific and educational values.

Each form of forest management will affect these values differently. There are trade-offs between them; here we focus on the trade-offs between the two most important values--timber values and environmental values. Two of the principal environmental values are sometimes termed ecological values and wilderness values.

In the case of ecological values we mean the ability of forests to contribute to and sustain biodiversity. Biodiversity includes diversity of gene pools, of species and of landscapes or ecosystems. Representatives of the hardwood timber industry maintain that there is no trade-off between timber values and ecological values, that logging of native forests is consistent with ecological sustainability. It is often pointed out that there is no evidence that species have been made extinct as a result of logging. This argument is often challenged by ecologists and environmentalists on two grounds. (1)

Firstly, we cannot say unequivocally that there has been no loss of species as a result of logging. It is very likely that the enormous variety of invertebrates has suffered a decline in diversity as a result of logging activities. Secondly, it is certain that genetic diversity within species has declined as local populations have been lost.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Economics of Logging High Conservation Value Native Forests


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?