Waterloo economics series | 2001

Abstracts of working papers

#0001 -- Kenneth R. Stollery (March 2001)

Climate change and optimal rotation in a flammable forest (PDF)

Abstract

This paper builds a Faustmann-based model to investigate the effects of increased climate-induced fire risk on the optimal rotation period in a commercial forest. Simulations using species of trees prevalent in North American forests indicate that both the commercial and socially optimal rotation ages decline as the risk increases. This occurs despite the fact that the inclusion of carbon sequestration benefits in society's maxim and means that the socially optimal rotation length exceeds the length that is commercially profitable.
 
The increased fire risk as the climate warms also has important implications for the ability of forests to act as absorbers of carbon. The arguments of the 'Umbrella Group' of countries who desire to use their forests' carbon-absorbing ability to offset their need for fossil fuel emission reductions will have increasingly less force as the climate warms. Because the heightened fire risk dramatically reduces the ability of living forests to act as carbon sinks, alternative proposals for storing carbon by 'pickling' wood in cold lakes look increasingly attractive.