Dry forests across the United States have become subject to declining resilience and, consequently, increased vulnerability to catastrophic wildfires. These disturbances cause severe environmental and social damages and may dislodge the forest into a different ecological regime. Forests provide many valuable services, such as the provisioning of timber and the sequestering of carbon that would otherwise contribute to climate change. The high-severity conflagrations that have become regular occurrences in many dry forests impinge the delivery of such benefits, particularly in the event of a regime shift. Sustainable forest management should take these risks into account. This article analyzes the economics of resilience in dry forests with respect to catastrophic fires and ecological thresholds. We illustrate how to price ecosystem resilience for the fire-prone ponderosa pine forests of the western United States. This analysis demonstrates that pricing forest resilience also establishes the economic value of ecological restoration with respect to ecosystem services, thereby operationalizing forest management as an investment in natural capital.
- Ecological restoration
- Ecosystem services
- Forest management
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Sociology and Political Science