Risk Aversion and Timber Harvest Strategies: A Case Study of Nonindustrial Private Forest Management in Louisiana

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Forest owners face many challenges regarding forest management due to the long period from planting to harvest. Along with the economic and environmental factors that influence management actions, the owners' attitude to risk plays a crucial role in forest management decisions. This study shows that understanding the effects of the owner's risk preference for management actions is an important step to form an effective forest policy. The objectives of the study are to (1) assess the economic advantage of forest management alternatives over a range of risk aversion coefficients and (2) determine the financial incentive (risk premium) corresponding to a forest owners' risk attitude. We implemented the stochastic efficiency with respect to a function framework to evaluate a set of fertilization, herbicide, and thinning management alternatives at mid-rotation loblolly pine plantations in Louisiana. Results from this study indicate that forest owner's risk preference affects their decision to select management actions. Financial incentives are substantially different for specific management alternatives between risk-neutral and risk-averse forest owners. The results can guide forest policy development where agencies can modify financial assistance programs to improve the adoption of management actions.

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Small-scale Forestry

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