The Time Dimension of Natural Resources Investing


Natural resource investments may include short-term activities such as annual agronomic crops and livestock, or long-term items such as horticultural or timber trees. Because of the long time between initial investment and income being generated from sale of tree products, investment in trees is especially sensitive to the time dimension of money. The economic concepts of opportunity cost, internal rate of return, and net present value are very helpful in comparing systems with very different economic life cycles such as annual cropping with agroforestry (growing crops or pasture between trees) or forestry. In general, systems, such as agroforestry, which mix short-term income components with longer-term wealth accumulation (from trees) are more attractive than either trees or crops alone because they have more even cash flow, total higher profitability, and lower risk.   

Socially Acceptable Natural Resource Management


Natural resource management must conform to what is biologically possible, economically feasible, environmentally sustainable, and socially acceptable. Social acceptability is often overlooked until opposition makes its importance self-evident. In reality, it is not really purely independent from economic, biological, or sustainability issues, but interacts with them in a complex and sometimes subtle way. One way of trying to understand social acceptability is to observe situations and outcomes. This approach has yielded 7 basic propositions about what makes natural resource systems acceptable or unacceptable to people. Although they are not entirely predictive, application of these propositions should reduce the probability of land management decisions incurring significant opposition.


Lowering Risk in Natural Resources Production


Risk arises from our inability to clearly foresee the future. That is, it is the child of uncertainty. Risk comes in many forms: climatic risk, biological risk, economic risk, and political risk. The single most effective way to minimize risk is through diversity. Multiproduct systems whose elements do not share exposure or sensitivity to the same risks will be more stable over time. Planning for and managing ecosystem diversity is a key economic element in agroforests, mixed species forest stands, pastures, agronomic intercrops, and rangelands.

The 5 Most Common Agroforestry Practices


Agroforestry includes both animal and plant agriculture combined with woody plants. The wide range of possible plant and animal components gives agroforestry a great deal of versatility. It is practiced in some form throughout all regions of North America because of its environmental and economic benefits. The specific form of agroforestry prevailing in different regions generally reflects the types of land resources available and their traditional use. The five most agroforestry practices in the United States are: [1] Silvopasture, [2] Alley Cropping, [3] Riparian Buffers, [4] Windbreaks, and [5] Forest Farming.

About DoctorRange

Dr. Sharrow's pictureDr. Sharrow is Professor of Rangeland Ecology and Management at Oregon State University, USA, where he has taught undergraduate and graduate level natural resources classes for the past 31 years.

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