Public Release: 

Forests in a market economy

USDA Forest Service ‑ Southern Research Station

USDA Forest Service (FS) economists and their cooperators have developed a book that demonstrates how economic principles can be used effectively to analyze forest policy issues. "Forests in a Market Economy" is the result of collaboration between researchers at the FS Southern Research Station, North Carolina State University (NCSU), and the Research Triangle Institute. Edited by Karen Abt from the SRS Economics of Forest Protection and Management unit in Research Triangle Park, NC, and Erin Sills from NCSU, the 20-chapter book is designed as a handbook for practitioners, policy analysts, and graduate students.

Forest economics stands alone as an applied field of economics. The diversity of forest landowners, ranging from individuals to public agencies, leads to multiple and sometimes competing perceptions of how forests should be managed. The long time frames involved in forest production, the essential immobility of the source, and the wide range of outputs--tangible and intangible-- are all factors that set the field of forest economics apart.

"This book provides a valuable resource for addressing the foundations of our most pressing forest policy issues," says David Wear, project leader for the Research Triangle Park unit. "Forest sustainability is increasingly tied to the decisions that private landowners make in response to market forces and changing values. Forest policies can be designed to promote sustainability by influencing market forces and having direct economic impacts. The book offers a range of sophisticated methods to quantify forest market processes, identify timber and nonmarket forest values, and measure the effects of forest policies."

The first three chapters of "Forests in a Market Economy" provide an introduction, a summary on the status of the world's forests, and the current state of research on private forest management. The remaining chapters are divided into three sections that cover timber production and markets, multiple products from forests, and non-market valuation. Chapters on multiple products include the economics of forest carbon sequestration, the importance of nontimber forest products to rural households, and the adoption of agroforestry by private landowners. Many of the chapters in the book focus on the U.S. South: others consider the United States as a whole, or focus on developing countries.

Researchers from the SRS Research Triangle Park unit--Karen Abt, David Butry, Tom Holmes, Evan Mercer, Jeff Prestemon, and David Wear--helped author 15 of the 20 chapters of the book.


To read the table of contents and introduction: .

SRS Economics of Forest Protection and Management unit:

For more information: Karen Abt at (919-549-4094) or

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