Radiative forcing and the optimal rotation age Thompson, Matthew P.; Adams, Darius; Sessions, John

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Thompson, Matthew P. ; Adams, Darius ; Sessions, John
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Ecological Economics
Emissions (Pollution) -- Analysis; Global warming -- Analysis; Sustainable forestry -- Analysis
To link to full-text access for this article, visit this link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.05.009 Byline: Matthew P. Thompson, Darius Adams, John Sessions Keywords: Forest management; Climate change; Radiative forcing; Carbon sequestration; Optimal rotation Abstract: Forests help mitigate climate change by sequestering atmospheric carbon. However, boreal and high-latitude temperate forests may also contribute to global warming due to the albedo effect. The relative effects of carbon sequestration and albedo can be quantified in terms of radiative forcing. We present a stylized, stand-level analysis to determine the optimal rotation age when considering a tax/subsidy scheme based on radiative forcing and the notion of equivalent carbon emissions. Additional management decision variables considered include species choice and regeneration effort, since these can impact the albedo effect. We demonstrate analytically that the optimal rotation length is likely shortened when albedo-related equivalent emissions are incorporated, relative to a policy based only on carbon. Empirical results indicate that rotation ages do decrease relative to a "carbon only" policy, and approach the traditional (timber only) Faustmann rotation age as equivalent emission rates increase. Our results suggest that forestation does not necessarily provide climatic benefits in all circumstances, and that, at the margin, other opportunities for carbon reduction (e.g. abatement), or pursuing forestation in other locations, become more attractive. Author Affiliation: Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management, College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA Article History: Received 16 September 2008; Revised 15 May 2009; Accepted 19 May 2009
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