Can carbon accounting promote economic development in forest-dependent, indigenous communities?
Gerrit van Kooten,
Maria Nijnik and
Forest Policy and Economics, 2019, vol. 100, issue C, 68-74
Forest-dependent, rural communities often experience declining populations and economic prosperity because technological changes related to harvesting, transportation and processing of wood fiber have increased the capital investments required while reducing employment. How then can communities, where forest resources are the primary economic driver, increase wealth that might then be used for economic development? Answers to this question are explored by examining the potential of different forest management regimes to create greater employment and wealth, particularly management options that include carbon values. Our application is to an interior forest region of British Columbia, the region that produces the greatest volume and value of lumber for export and the province where indigenous peoples have not ceded aboriginal title to most of the land base on which the trees grow. While traditional practices of managing forests primarily used to be multi-functional and sustainable, the results of our study are less optimistic. We examine the trade-offs and potential synergies between revenue (as measured by net present value), employment and carbon in forest ecosystems, where the latter is a proxy for the ecological health of the forest. We conclude that no management strategy is able to satisfy all of the technical, environmental and social/cultural constraints and, at the same time, offer forest-based economic development that will prevent the decline of rural communities.
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