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Discussion Paper: New Zealand's Privatization of Forest Lands: Policy Lessons for the United States and Elsewhere?

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Abstract:

Two forest policy questions are examined: 1. What particular problems in New Zealand's privatization of public forest lands (1985 to 1995) need thorough examination prior to proposing it in the United States or elsewhere? 2. What light does the New Zealand experience throw on the question of whether privatization and subdivision of forest lands is the solution to multiple use conflicts among forest land uses and users? A brief history of the origin and implementation of New Zealand's forest privatization policy is given, including the disestablishment of its national Forest Service. Two unique features of New Zealand made privatization especially appropriate there: the history of many government-operated businesses, and the great area and productivity of a very distinctive and differentiated forest type--radiata pine plantations. Nine objectives of privatization stated in New Zealand, 5 specifically on forestry, are analyzed. Six of the 9 were concluded to be successful in New Zealand. Possibilities of success in the United States are examined. As a solution for multiple-use problems, both positive and negative results of the policy are found. Finally, 6 tentative "lessons" are concluded that should be reviewed in countries where a similar policy is proposed: 1. Privatization should involve either leasing or fee simple sale of forested land primarily suited to rapid tree growth of commercially valuable species suitable for being managed for successive crops of timber at a profit, with covenants for regeneration after harvest. 2. Lands critical for recreational, aesthetic, or habitat values should remain publicly owned. 3. Lands on which re-investment of some of the income in regeneration is of questionable profitability should not be entered into the policy. 4. The policy could be successful in avoiding many but not all multiple-use conflicts for the managers. 5. In public forests retained for exclusively noncommodity uses, questions of the availability of some useful and valuable woods may require arbitration of conflicts. 6. Privatization doesn't solve the struggle to financially support park and wilderness and special wildlife habitat. For. Sci. 43(2):181-193.

Keywords: Policy; corporatization; economics; national forests; national parks

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Professor Emeritus, College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources, VPI&SU, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0324

Publication date: May 1, 1997

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