Analysis of timber harvest scheduling under alternative levels of land aggregation: an application to a hypothetical Mexican forest ownership
The problem of optimal land organization was approached via a general methodology to aggregate finely distinguished planning unit areas of an even-aged ponderosa pine forest in Northwestern Mexico. Factor analysis was applied to eighteen timber inventory variables to produce four independent and meaningful constructs that explained 87% of the total variable set’s variation. Next, each planning unit area was characterized by its factor scores and an Euclidean-metric based analysis was applied. The resultant Dendrograrn’s structure helped to define four levels of land aggregation that were evaluated with the same forest management policy. This policy simulated current Mexican forestry guidelines such as replacement stand’s regimes based on maximum mean annual increment, and area volume constraints for timber harvest scheduling. Then, the present value-maximizing timber harvest schedules for each level of land organization was found by using LP Model 1 formulations. Results showed that timber harvesting net benefits varied between 1.3% and 7.0% across levels of land aggregation. This fact was a consequence of the biophysical homogeneity of the forest and the Mexican assumptions of prices and flat costs for overhead and planning. Theoretical considerations indicated that if overhead and planning costs are properly considered for every level of land aggregation, the study’s methodology could show a greater present value difference between alternative levels of land organization.