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Diffuse Load Abatement with Biodiversity Co-Benefits: The Optimal Rotation Age and Buffer Zone Size

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This article analyzes the optimal rotation age and the size of the buffer zone when society values harvest revenue, water quality, and biodiversity. In a theoretical model, we extend the traditional Faustmann rotation model to include the possibility of leaving an unharvested riparian buffer zone between the clearcut area and the watercourse to reduce nutrient load damages to the watercourse and increase biodiversity benefits in the buffer zone. We then analyze how the optimal rotation age and the optimal size of the buffer zone are chosen simultaneously. In an empirical analysis, we use Finnish data including simulation results of nitrogen loads to find the socially optimal solution with a numerical model. Biodiversity is valuated as a willingness to pay for retention trees left in the buffer zone. According to the empirical results, in the social optimum it is not optimal to allocate any land to an unharvested buffer zone when we consider the reduction of the nitrogen load as the only benefit provided by the buffer zone. However, when we add the biodiversity benefits into the empirical analysis, the optimal size of the buffer zone is 4% of the area in the social optimum.
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Keywords: biodiversity conservation; final felling; nutrient load; water protection

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-08-02

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.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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