Koa economics

Exploring economic incentives for private landowners to adopt conservation practices has become an important focus of conservation efforts, according to a report by the Center for Environmental Sciences and Policy (CESP) at Stanford University. A CESP team did a case study on developing koa forestry in Kona, Hawaii, to combine forest conservation with financial benefits. The paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), June 27, 2006.

The team selected koa for four reasons:
  • From a biodiversity perspective, a large fraction of native Hawaiian biota is associated with koa forests....
  • From an ecosystem services perspective, koa forests provide carbon sequestration and hydrological and cultural benefits.
  • From an economic perspective, koa is Hawaii's premier timber, and its high market value creates a potentially lucrative investment.
  • Finding economically viable means of reforesting degraded pastureland is relevant far beyond Hawaii, particularly in the tropics.
The team concluded that
forestry ventures based on the high-value, native hardwood koa is a financially viable investment with strong potential to be a "win-win" land use for private landowners and for conservation.
The paper also cites the Conservation Reservation Enhancement Program (CREP), under which a landowner, by enrolling in the program, can "receive rental payments and cost-share assistance covering initial forest establishment and ongoing major maintenace costs." CREP is expected to be established in Hawaii through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA).

Business strategies for conservation on private lands: Koa forestry as a case study (pdf, 400KB, 6p.)



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