Non-Timber Values in Canadian Forests: An Assessment of Uses, Techniques and Data Availability

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  • In 1989 the Canadian forest industry shipped nearly $50 billion of forest products, generated over $3.5 billion in government revenues, and accounted for $19.5 billion of Canada's trade surplus (Forestry Canada, 1991). The forest provides the products which are used to generate trade surpluses and employment in the forest industry. However, the value of the forest itself goes well beyond the generation of this economic activity. The forest also provides other goods and services. These goods and services, so-called non-timber goods and services, also have value and are important to Canadians and the world. Wildlife habitat, wilderness, recreational spaces, and a vast array of other services are provided by the forest and are not typically traded on markets. The purpose of this paper is to define non-timber values, examine the use of these values in decision making and planning, explain the common methods used to measure non-timber values, and provide an assessment of the availability of non-timber information and the state of the art in non-timber valuation techniques in Canada. Several approaches to valuing non-timber services are examined and critically assessed. There are a host of techniques and each has its own set of limitations. The contingent valuation, travel cost and hedonic price approaches are reviewed. One of the most difficult problems in non-timber valuation is the development of a technique that reliably estimates non-use values such as existence values and bequest values. These values undoubtedly exist, but their measurement is problematic. Other limitations of non-timber valuation techniques are addressed including the treatment of irreversible changes. Appendix 2 contains a summary of non-timber activities and values by Province for Canada. These data were collected to provide a baseline data set of non-timber activities and values. They were also collected to identify gaps in existing data sets and identify research needs. The data on non-timber activities (fishing, camping, etc.) are provided as indicators of the quantity of non-timber related activities. There are a number of \"gaps\" in the non-timber value database. First and foremost is the lack of non-market value information for most services provided by the forest. Some consumptive values (hunting, fishing) have been collected on a national basis. There are very few measures of non-consumptive values or non-use values. Typically, the studies measuring non-consumptive and/or non-use values are small scale, regional efforts. There must be more research in the area of evaluating the tradeoffs between various mixes of services provided by the forest. These forests should try to concentrate on a larger geographical level than previous valuation efforts. Site specific valuation efforts are useful for site specific management (stocking lakes, changing local regulations, etc.) but they are limited in their usefulness in national management of forests. A second major gap in the non-market valuation area is a measurement of the impact of changes in the physical environment on the non-market values. Only a few studies have been performed in Canada. Information on the impact of environmental changes is essential to evaluate decisions on harvesting approaches, buffer zones, etc. Collection of the bio-physical information also revealed a number of gaps. Most gaps are due to definitional difficulties. \"Old Growth Forest\" is difficult to define and a variety of definitions exist. Differing definitions of parks, wilderness areas, recreation areas and historic sites makes the calculation of the areas in each of the designations difficult. Additional effort should proceed on two fronts. First, non-market valuation studies should be extended so that they can be incorporated into national level planning. These non-market values should include baseline estimates as well as estimates of the values associated with environment change. Second, consistent definitions of item such as old growth forests would aid in the collection of data on the biophysical elements. In the current political and social environment there is considerable support for exercises which attempt to reflect the true worth of environmental services. Non-timber valuation is one such exercise. There is no doubt that values for environmental services will vary across individuals or jurisdictions nor is there any doubt that values will change over time, just as they do for market goods. The task of non-timber valuation is to try to capture the tradeoff between market goods and environmental services in an attempt to reflect the demand for these services. Such information should be useful to policy makers and resource managers alike.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International