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Forest Socio - economics

In addition to producing wood products, forests provide a range of other services such as biodiversity, environmental services, and cultural services. It is important to understand and value the full range of values and how they interact.

Current Projects

Preferences for Sustainable Utilisation of Forest Residues

Supervisors: Dr Dugald Tinch, Assoc Prof Julianne O'Reilly-Wapstra, Dr Elena Tinch, Dr Peter Volker

Tasmania is endowed with abundant forest residues potential, which are not currently being utilised. The total potential biomass from wood processing residues, timber harvesting residues, and low-quality timber in the state is estimated to be 3.3 million tonnes per year. However, forest residues from thinning and timber harvesting operations are left in the forest coupes or burned. These practices are negatively affecting the community by generating smoke or igniting wildfire. Instead of burning or leaving forest residues on the forest site, it can be harvested and utilised for bioenergy production. These require an investigation of the supply and the public acceptance of using forest residues for bioenergy production. Therefore, this project investigates the forest owners and the public preferences for sustainable forest residue utilisation. Sustainable utilisation is conceptualised in terms of socio-economic and environmental outcomes of forest residue utilisation, including wildlife habitat quality, creating employment opportunities, mitigating health impacts of smoke, and reducing wildfire risk.

headshot of Bassie Limenih

Applications of Natural Capital Accounting in forestry

This research will explore the adoption of Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) for sustainable forest resource management. Increased pressure on global forest biomass has resulted in the degradation and decline of forest biodiversity and vital ecological functions. Improved sustainable resource management tools to measure and define changes in forest natural capital are needed to achieve sustained economic growth and ecosystem health. Natural capital accounting (NCA) is a tool to integrate economic and environmental information for the purpose of sustainable resource management as it provides a framework to systematically report and measure the stocks and flows of environmental assets over time. Applying natural capital concepts to inform decisions and better manage forest environments is urgently needed.

This research aims to explore the current examples of NCA for the purpose of forest resource management to understand the challenges faced in the application of NCA frameworks in this context. The research will attempt to identify the driving forces in the implementation of NCA concepts in a Tasmanian setting and will use economic techniques to measure physical and monetary values for non-market cultural ecosystem services provided by Tasmanian forests.

headshot of Isobella Grover

Public Perceptions of ‘Off-Reserves’ in Tasmanian Production Forests

Supervisors: Dr Dugald Tinch, Assoc Prof Julianne O'Reilly-Wapstra, Dr Elena Tinch, Dr Peter Volker

Tasmania is committed in protecting its valuable biodiversity and habitats through the Tasmanian Reserve Estate, however, important populations of threatened species remain outside these formal protected areas. Establishing “off-reserves” is an avenue for protecting natural and cultural values in Tasmanian production forests. Currently, the setting aside more than 5% of land area as an off-reserves is voluntary, however a compensation mechanism for off-reserves may encourage private forest-owners to participate in greater conservation of forest values.

This project aims at investigating the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the off-reserve system in Tasmania. The study focuses on identifying the value that society may place on enhancing off-reserve areas which could provide ecosystem services including biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, soil and water quality regulation, and cultural values. This project will provide information to support decision making for a compensation scheme of protected areas on private-owned forests.

headshot of Hasanthee Ampe Mohottige