Tropical forests vary greatly in their stocking rates of timber and the commercial value of the different tree species they contain. This significantly affects the economics of logging and, consequently, the viability of carbon payments to aid in the conservation or management of the world's forests. In this paper we first develop a conceptual model to investigate how theoretical opportunity costs and the conservation potential of carbon payments vary across forests with stocking rates and species composition. We focus the model on two possible conservation contexts: 1) strict protection of unlogged forests and 2) conservation of selectively logged forests. Results suggest that the type of forest, with regard to both timber volume and species composition, greatly affects the potential of a carbon payment to mitigate forest degradation. Additionally, two complementary insights emerge. First, in forests where timbers of high commercial value represent only a small proportion of total wood volume (and therefore carbon), selective logging may make conservation of the wider landscape more feasible, and cost-effective. Second, in forests where selective logging of highly-prized species has already occurred, engaging in long-term conservation of forest (and hence thwarting conversion to agriculture) may make the conservation of biodiverse landscapes more feasible, and their management more cost-effective.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Carbon markets
- Opportunity cost