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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The influence of changing logging technology upon the economic accessibility of the forest Cottell, Philip Leroy

Abstract

Supervisor: Professor J. H. G. Smith The economic accessibility of the forest depends on the value of forest products in the market place and the total of all costs involved in getting them there. Where these costs equal the value of the products, the margin of economic operation occurs. At any point in time, a certain set of technological, social, and economic conditions prevail, which serves to define this boundary. However, it is not always clear just what the effect on the economic margin will be if a change in any of these factors takes place. This in turn increases the difficulty experienced by those who seek to plan for the most efficient and beneficial long term use of the forest, since neither the physical amount nor the monetary value of the forest resource can be adequately determined in economic terms. This thesis has examined the nature of technological change in the logging sector of the forest industry, taking particular notice of both the rate of change and of its effect upon economic accessibility of the forest. The resulting need for more factual information for resource planning was discussed, with the emphasis being placed upon the area of logging costs. A mathematical model of the highlead logging system, suitable for simulation on electronic computers, was developed to illustrate the type of information required, and how it may be used in the determination of forest accessibility. Also, economic analysis was applied to the problem of logging layout and road spacing, where it was shown that the value of the marginal return from each input activity must be equal for the optimum, or least cost condition, to exist. The usefulness of the cost analysis techniques was demonstrated in an example comparing the performance of the highlead and skyline logging systems on a standardized setting. This demonstrated that the latter system was competitive at a road construction cost of about $6 per lineal foot and over, while the former was the more economical below that value. Also, it brought out the fact that skyline systems can contribute in the future to an extension of the margin of operations in coastal British Columbia, and especially so if various technical improvements can be anticipated. A method for combining inventory data, logging productivity and cost relationships, and log market prices through the use of logging models was described, using an example from the University of British Columbia Research Forest. It was observed that refinements of this method could lead to a satisfactorily accurate and flexible definition of the economically accessible timber resource.

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