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Predicting the Present Value Distribution of a Forest Plantation Investment

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Forestry investment decisions may be based on the probability distribution of financial return in addition to a point estimate of mean return. This study describes an approach to predicting the present value distribution of a plantation investment using actual data on timber price and yield. Changes in stumpage price are modeled with a lognormal diffusion process called geometric Brownian motion (GBM). Timber yield is modeled with a variant of GBM that includes an age-dependent growth component. Model parameters are estimated with time-series observations of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) price and yield in the southeastern United States. Because GBM models have lognormally distributed errors, present value distributions are skewed with extremely long right-hand tails. The median and quartiles of the distribution provide a better measure of central tendency and spread than do the mean and standard deviation. A median-maximizing feedback cutting rule does not perform any better than a median-maximizing fixed rotation age suggesting that no economic gain can be obtained by monitoring timber price and yield under the assumptions of our models. The forecast error, measured by the distance between quartiles, is about twice the size of the median present value. System error is the primary cause, and error in the price process contributes more to the variability in present value than does error in the yield process. Parameter uncertainty increases forecast error 15 to 35%. The large forecast error raises the question of whether better predictive models can be built or whether the present value of a plantation investment is inherently uncertain. For. Sci. 42(3):378-388.

Keywords: Loblolly pine; risk and uncertainty; stochastic stumpage price; stochastic yield; timber harvesting

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: USDA Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station, 1992 Folwell Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108

Publication date: August 1, 1996

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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