Economic assessment of use values of near-natural forestry compared with rotational forestry in Denmark

The present study is a cost-benefit analysis of converting the current rotational forestry (RF) of Norway spruce stand into near-natural forestry (NNF) of beech, based on two representative soil conditions and visitors popular case areas in Denmark, considering welfare economic values of timber, recreation provision, and groundwater recharge. The study answers the major research question of how large the welfare economic values of recreation and groundwater benefits of the conversion are as compared with timber benefits. The net present values (NPV) of the benefits were calculated for an infinite time horizon at a 3 % discount rate. The results reveal that converting into NNF would result in a NPV of at least 6,832 ha-1 from use values of recreation and water benefit on a site with good soil and a high visitor frequency, as is typical in the eastern part of Denmark. On a site in the west of the country, with poor growth conditions and a lower visitor frequency, the gain is still substantial, namely 5,581 ha-1 . These benefits though come at a cost of 3,375 and 6,206 ha-1 from timber production, respectively. This means that the economic value of use values of recreation and water benefits outweighs the loss of timber on good soil conditions but not on poor soil conditions.