Bioeconomic Approaches to Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests
Bioeconomic models are idealized representations of human-nature interactions used to describe how the decisions that people make regarding the harvest of biological resources affect the future condition of resource stocks and the flow of net economic benefits. This modeling approach posits an assumed goal or objective that a decision-maker seeks to optimize subject to a set of biological constraints. The power of this method derives from its ability to evaluate a wide array of alternative policy or management innovations over timescales that are radically longer than the timescales considered in many other approaches to economic analysis. In this chapter, we review techniques and applications of two complementary classes of bioeconomic models that have been used to analyze alternative strategies for sustainable use of tropical forests. First, continuous-time bioeconomic models have been used to derive dynamic policy prescriptions for optimally balancing tropical timber production and tropical forest conservation over very long time scales. Second, discrete-time bioeconomic models have been used to evaluate alternative on-the-ground timber harvesting strategies. Emerging threats associated with climate change could be addressed with bioeconomic models that consider the resilience of tropical forests to potentially catastrophic changes.