Multistrata Agroforestry, Silvopasture, and Sustainable Timber Management in Central Mississippi: A Cost-Benefit Analysis for Private Landowners
Randolph, Christine B.
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CitationRandolph, Christine B. 2018. Multistrata Agroforestry, Silvopasture, and Sustainable Timber Management in Central Mississippi: A Cost-Benefit Analysis for Private Landowners. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThe present economic model and level of education in Mississippi falls short of national average performance. In a state with the lowest per capita income nationwide ($18,000), only 14% of residents have an education beyond high school. While timber is the second most important revenue stream in the state (Mississippi Secretary of State, 2016), many land owners have not fully optimized this resource base for financial and environmental benefit.
The conventional timber-management approach involves clear-cutting all standing timber and planting expensive tree saplings to begin the next rotation. This is expensive and disruptive, and ignores the benefits of forest-stand thinning to improve light and nutrient access to remaining trees and understory vegetation. Instead, managing land for sustainably sourced timber, non-timber forest products (NTFPs), high-value grazing pasture, and more traditional crop species, can yield higher timber value and improve local species diversity. The clear-cut approach compromises ecosystem resilience and destroys site biodiversity while a thinned, selectively harvested, forest produces high-quality timber that demands higher market prices than short rotation pine stands.
Multiple reliable water sources, a long growing season, fertile soil, moderate to minimal elevation changes, and naturally rapid biomass growth provide a canvas for range of potential land management enterprises in the region. To evaluate this potential, I assessed and determined the best set of clear-cut alternative land-use and timber management strategies for a 130-acre plot of land in D’Lo, Simpson County using a model-driven net present value financial appraisal, and GIS site assessment maps.
Using both public and private soil, water, tree stock and historic land use data, I produced a Net Present Value (NPV) financial appraisal that outlines the feasibility of various sustainable timber and agroforestry management systems. I excluded traditional agriculture (monoculture row crops on cleared land) because most unmanaged parcels in the region have returned to forest.
Sustainable and thoughtfully designed timber management, agroforestry, and agriculture can empower landowners and increase the availability of fresh, local, and sustainably produced food for the community. Through environmental research, site assessment, and financial appraisal, I evaluated the best set of management styles for the target site.
It is a middle-ground set of solutions which achieve financial objectives while aligning with some or all of the values detailed in the FRP (US Forest Service, 2003). I designed this research to produce generalizable and customizable results, accessible to fellow prospective land managers in the southeast (Mercer & Miller, 1998).
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42003193