Forest and agriculture management

The forest and agriculture management faces environmental requirements that are more and more exigent each day. These conditions range from the protection of the biodiversity and the natural habitat of the wild species to the provision of recreational areas and scenery.

The sustainable exploitation of the natural resources and the economic benefit are generally considered like opposite objectives. However, this is not always the case if:

  • the standing forest several benefits are taken into account (i.e., soil protection against erosion, flooding prevention, shade provision for cattle, carbon captures from the atmosphere, provision of shelter to wild species, etc.) and
  • the time horizon is large enough, which is necessary to consider the well-being of future generations.

This last point is required by the definition of sustainable development proposed by The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987): “Economic and social development that meets the needs of the current generation without undermining the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. There seems to be wide consensus about this definition but a lot of divergence on how to put the idea of sustainable development into operation.

The difficulty to meet such a set of diverse requirements indicates that mathematical modeling should have a word in the solution of the Optimal Policy Problem. However, the amount of research concerning forest management is much smaller than the research concerning other natural resources like fishing in the sea. This is partly explained by some of its characteristics that make the mathematical study harder. In particular, the exploitation is seasonal which calls for discrete time models. Furthermore, in forestry, there is an important delay between the planting decision and the harvesting moment when the economic benefit is obtained. Dealing with this delay and the intertemporal constraints that it implies, makes the mathematical study much more difficult.

We are interested in finding a suitable way to define management policies of natural resources that attain equilibrium between the present and future benefit and in developing tools and techniques to characterize them.

Researcher AM2V: Adriana Piazza.

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