Policy tools to encourage the application of sustainable timber harvesting practices in the United States and Canada

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67 Scopus citations


States and provinces of the United States and Canada have defined practices to mitigate the negative externalities often associated with timber harvesting activities. This paper describes the various methods states and provinces employ to encourage the application of sustainable timber harvesting practices. Information on specific policy tools used to encourage guideline application was obtained through a written questionnaire to state and provincial forestry agency directors. All but one of the 51 responding states and provinces have some form of formally-defined timber harvesting practices. Practices that address riparian zone management, water quality, or wetlands protection are the most common - all but one responding state and province addresses one of more of these areas. Sixty-one percent of the states and provinces implement their practices through predominantly voluntary means whereas the remaining 39% are applied within a regulatory framework. Of the policy tools examined, technical assistance, educational, and cost-share programs account for 88% of all state and provincial programs directed at encouraging forest landowners to use the practices suggested in their guidebooks. Technical assistance and education programs are the most common policy tools used to assist loggers and foresters in applying sustainable harvesting practices. Technical assistance and cost-share programs consistently rank among the most effective policy tools for encouraging loggers, landowners, and foresters to apply the sustainable timber harvesting practices. Comparing levels of program investment to perceived benefits, assistance programs and education programs rank most efficient for landowners and foresters, respectively. Premium prices for products and preferential access to contracts are the two most efficient programs directed at loggers, yet their existence is modest within states and provinces. The paper concludes with an assessment of emerging trends and additional information needs associated with encouraging the application of sustainable timber harvesting practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-127
Number of pages17
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research supported by the MN Agricultural Experiment Station and the Minnesota Forest Resources Council, October 2002.


  • Forestry
  • Guidelines
  • Policy tools
  • Regulations
  • Sustainable forest management
  • Timber harvesting practices


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