How Ecosystem Service Provision Can Increase Forest Mortality from Insect Outbreaks

Charles Sims, David Aadland, David Finnoff and James Powell


Climate change is believed to be the root cause of the unprecedented mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreak currently underway in the western United States. While climate change is undoubtedly a factor, changes in public forest management have resulted in more host trees in MPB habitat. We employ a novel approach to separate the contribution of changing preferences for ecosystem services from the effects of fire suppression and climate change in the current MPB outbreak. Simulations illustrate how an increased emphasis on nontimber ecosystem services induced a shift from a climate-independent disturbance process (timber harvesting) to a climatedependent one (insect outbreaks). (JEL Q23, Q57)

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