Land Use Change and Innovation in U.S. Forestry
This chapter looks at innovation and technical change in logging and in forest management, primarily in North America. The early history of the forest resource in the United States is one of resource depletion as the exploitation of the accessible stands has gradually given way to exploitation of less-accessible stands. However, unlike the other resources examined in this study-coal, petroleum, and copper-forests are renewable. Thus the resource depletion associated with logging and timber utilization is, in part, offset by the natural process of forest regeneration. This process has only partially offset depletion since much of the early logged forest land was converted into other uses, for instance, cropping or pasture. In recent decades, however, the process of natural regeneration has been augmented by investments, artificial regeneration in the form of tree planting, and forest plantations. Furthermore, the forest stock has been augmented by various silvicultural practices aimed at increasing forest productivity. Superimposed over the analysis are the effects of the increasingly stringent regulation of forest practices experienced in recent years, especially since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.