In the past 100-plus years, forestland ownerships have gone through two structural changes in the US and other parts of the world: the accumulation of industrial timberlands between 1900s and 1980s and the transformation of industrial timberlands to institutional ownerships afterwards. This book is about the history and economics of these two structural changes with the emphasis on the latter. The scale of both changes is unprecedented and truly revolutionary, impacting tens of millions of acres of private landholdings and billions of dollars of investment and affecting industrial structure, forest management and policy, research and development, community welfare, and forest sustainability. Looking though a historical count of key events, players, prevailing management philosophies, public policy, and institutional factors, the author of this book searches for an economic explanation and assesses the impact of these two changes. Its main contributions are three folds. First, it explains why industrial firms were able to profit from owning large areas of forest lands in the first place and how institutional investors could purchase these lands later. Many details of the history that could have otherwise been lost are revealed in this book for the first time. Second, it compares private and public equity timberland investments with respect to risk-adjusted returns as well as such other dimensions of interest to investors and forest managers including alignment of interests, capacity to exploit market inefficiencies, and their forest management and conservation records. Finally, it provides thoughtful commentary into the future of institutional timberland investments and global forest sustainability. This book is required reading for anyone interested in understanding the workings of the modern forest sector in the U.S. and elsewhere, forest investment, and forest sustainability.
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