Handbook on the Economics of Natural Resources
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Handbook on the Economics of Natural Resources

Edited by Robert Halvorsen and David F. Layton

The topics discussed in the Handbook on the Economics of Natural Resources are essential for those looking to understand how best to use and conserve the resources that form the foundation for human well-being. These include nonrenewable resources, modeling of biological resources, conservation of biological resources and water resources. The expert contributors of this Handbook provide solutions to many of the problems that growing populations now face, and sketch the likely future developments in the field of natural resource economics whilst paving the way for new thinking.
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Chapter 8: The forest harvesting problem: have we reached the limit of our understanding?

Gregory S. Amacher


The forest rotation problem, or simply the optimal time to harvest either a single tree, or as most of the literature assumes, the time to clearcut an evenaged forest, has been without doubt the most important forest economics question of both modern and ancient times. Any mention of the forest rotation problem in modern economic thinking must at least start with Martin Faustmann, a German accountant living in Darmstadt who in 1849 correctly solved the problem of the optimal time to cut a stand of trees. His motivation was only to find more equitable ways to levy taxes on forest land, but 150 years since his paper was published it remains the undisputed foundation of modern forest economics. It may in fact be the first rigorous natural resource economics problem ever solved. Indeed, at least in forest economics, the most cited pieces to this day are extensions of Faustmann’s result to handle different situations and complexities.

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