The potential cost of environmental certification to vegetation management in plantation forests: a New Zealand case study
Abstract:Plantation forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council have restrictions on herbicide use. Since certified plantations are dependant on herbicides for cost-effective vegetation management, compliance requires a shift from current chemical practices. Using New Zealand plantation forests as a case study, discounted cash flow analyses were used to estimate the cost of certification-compliant vegetation control regimes compared with current non-compliant methods. We examined methods that (i) reduce the quantity of herbicides by using spot control and (ii) avoid the use of herbicides by using weed mats, manual, and mechanical control. Cost analyses were undertaken for low-, medium-, and high-productivity sites. The internal rate of return of the non-compliant regime was between 5% and 5.8% across the productivity range. Spot control was cheaper than current non-compliant practice. However, spot control is limited by site suitability and the availability of labour. Non-chemical control methods were expensive relative to other regimes. Reductions in the internal rate of return varied across low- and high-productivity sites between 0.8% and 0.5% for manual control, 1.3% and 0.8% for mechanical control, and 1.7% and 1.0% for weed mats. Meeting the goals of certification while retaining cost-effective vegetation control presents a challenge to the plantation forestry sector.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2011-05-19
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