Investing in Natural Capital: Using Economic Incentives to Overcome Barriers to Forest Restoration

Authors

  • Tong Wu,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, U.S.A.
    2. School of Forestry, Ecological Restoration Institute, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, U.S.A.
      T. Wu, email tong.wu@nau.edu
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  • Yeon-Su Kim,

    1. School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, U.S.A.
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  • Matthew D. Hurteau

    1. School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, U.S.A.
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T. Wu, email tong.wu@nau.edu

Abstract

A legacy of fire suppression and the impacts of climate change have induced a worsening pattern of large and severe forest fires across the western United States. This has spurred action to jump-start wildfire risk mitigation initiatives. Despite an increase in resources and attention, the persistence of economic impediments has forestalled the successful expansion of forest restoration to a landscape level. The failure to properly account for the full range of costs and benefits from restoration treatments has contributed to the asymmetry between needed action and actual implementation. The valuation of non-market ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, along with the ability of ecological restoration to act as an agent of economic stimulus, should be incorporated into the policymaking process. We demonstrate how institutionalizing the economic benefits from both the process and products of forest restoration can strengthen policies for advancing long-term forest health.

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