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Timber, science and statecraft: the emergence of modern forest resource economic thought in Germany

Research paper by Esa-;Jussi Viitala

Indexed on: 08 Sep '16Published on: 01 Sep '16Published in: European Journal of Forest Research



Abstract

Abstract German foresters in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century were in many respects pioneers of modern renewable natural resource economic thought. This article examines how modern resource-based thinking emerged in German forestry and how it was shaped by prevailing political ideologies and intellectual movements. It is shown that the idea of the capital nature and value of forests was introduced in the mid-eighteenth century by Georg Heinrich Zincke, one of the earliest major German economists. His compatriots in mining and forestry took these economic principles further, presenting a few years later explicit comparisons on the profitability of different forest management regimes. These pioneering insights and calculations, published almost exactly 250 years ago, prompted further development of modern forest economic thinking. This intellectual process culminated in the discovery of the celebrated Faustmann model, perhaps the oldest formal description of natural resource use that is still theoretically valid.AbstractGerman foresters in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century were in many respects pioneers of modern renewable natural resource economic thought. This article examines how modern resource-based thinking emerged in German forestry and how it was shaped by prevailing political ideologies and intellectual movements. It is shown that the idea of the capital nature and value of forests was introduced in the mid-eighteenth century by Georg Heinrich Zincke, one of the earliest major German economists. His compatriots in mining and forestry took these economic principles further, presenting a few years later explicit comparisons on the profitability of different forest management regimes. These pioneering insights and calculations, published almost exactly 250 years ago, prompted further development of modern forest economic thinking. This intellectual process culminated in the discovery of the celebrated Faustmann model, perhaps the oldest formal description of natural resource use that is still theoretically valid.