Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forestry and Environmental Conservation

Committee Member

Puskar N Khanal

Committee Member

Thomas J. Straka

Committee Member

Donald L. Hagan


Timber production in the Southern United States has benefited greatly from the use of a range of intensive and sometimes costly silvicultural practices. To aid in the assessment of these costs, costs of forestry practices have been reported periodically for the South for over 60 years; however, few detailed analyses of cost trends have been done. This thesis analyzes changes in silvicultural practices costs in relation to changes in the cost components of these practices as well as larger economic factors and changes in the forest industry. Additionally, discounted cash flow analyses were used to examine possible effects of cost trends on the future profitability of pine plantation management. Cost trend analyses indicated real changes in the cost of several forestry practices, with changes in forestry wages and fuel prices having a significant correlation with practices cost changes in some cases. Empirical cash flow analyses indicated that declining costs for herbicide site preparation has the potential to compensate for increases in the cost of controlled burning, though increasing timber cruising and timber marking costs still caused all management regimes to decline in value over time. However, even given the presumed rates of cost change, slightly increasing timber prices would compensate for lost value due to cost increases in most cases. Further analysis revealed that increasing timber marking and cruising costs reduce the financial feasibility of management regimes with multiple thinnings at certain discount rates given current low sawtimber prices. Management implications include that though past trends in forestry costs, if presumed to continue, may lead to the declining value of forestry rotations given current timber prices; they may not be substantial barriers to pine plantation management as a whole and may be absorbed by relatively small increases in timber prices. However, the current increasing costs of practices such as controlled burning, timber cruising and timber marking still may reduce potential profits. Investing in training loggers in the proper execution of operator select harvests, improving the technological efficiency of timber cruising practices, and utilizing herbicide applications over mechanical treatment and controlled burning regimes could mitigate problems associated with these increasing costs.



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