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Wood and industrialization: Evidence and hypotheses from the case of Spain, 1860-1935

Iñaki Iriarte-Goñi and María-Isabel Ayuda ()

Ecological Economics, 2008, vol. 65, issue 1, 177-186

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to study wood consumption during the industrial expansion which took place in the western world in the second half of the nineteenth and the first decades of the twentieth century, through the analysis of the case of Spain. For this purpose, we present the series of Spanish wood consumption both as a raw material (WRM) and as firewood (FW) between 1860 and 1935 and we carry out two exercises with these series. The first calculates the intensity of use (IOU), which relates wood consumption in physical terms with the evolution of the GDP. The second, more complex, exercise estimates a standard consumption function that allows us to know the elasticity of WRM with respect to the GDP, the Spanish price of wood and the Spanish price of a substitute material like iron. Based on our results, we discuss the lower dependence of the Spanish industrial economy on wood, the "liberation" of forest areas that may have occurred in Spain as a result of industrialization, and to what extent the trends observed for the Spanish case can be extrapolated internationally. The main conclusion is that industrialization transformed the uses of wood and, though the importance of this resource per unit of GDP decreased, its overall consumption increased, generating greater pressure on forests at an international level.

Date: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:65:y:2008:i:1:p:177-186