Disturbances, Changing Markets, and Competitiveness of Forestry in the Southern United States
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The southern United State is a leading domestic and global supply region of timber and forest ecosystem service. Yet it is faced with increasing challenges associated with the risk of wildfire and southern pine beetle (SPB) disturbances and changing market conditions as well as opportunities associated with bioeconomic development. There is a compelling need to gain a deeper understanding of these challenges and opportunities so that effective policyand strategies can be developed to facilitate the region's forestry to maintain globally competitive in a new bioeconomic era. This study will: 1) analyze the risk of wildfire and SPB outbreaks coupled with climate variability; 2) assess the economic potential and challenges of forest-based bioeconomic development, with an emphasis on a) competing uses of forest resources and b) global competitiveness of the region in the production of wood, paper, bioenergy, and other forest-based products; and 3) examine and recommend forest management responses and policy options to address the challenges associated with the disturbances and changing market conditions. A suite of integrative approachesincluding statistic and economic modeling, policy analysis, and literature synthesis will be used to achieve the research objectives. The findings from this study will shed new light on the risks associated with wildfire and SPB disturbances and the global competiveness of forest-based sectors in the southern United States. The integration of risk and competiveness analyses under various market conditions, future climates, and policy options will advance the knowledge about the challenges, opportunities, and responses for the region's forestry and related stakeholders. Such results will help improve decision-making at the farm/firm and industry levels and inform policy-making at the state and national levels. Thus, they would be of great value to forest landowners, practitioners, industry, researchers, and policy makers in the region and beyond.