Socioeconomic analysis of spruce budworm and forest tent caterpillar outbreaks and control in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan

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University of New Brunswick


Forest pest outbreaks can have severe impacts on ecosystem dynamics by causing extensive tree mortality and growth loss on forest land. The ecological impacts caused by forest pest outbreaks could have serious social and economic implications on regions that depend heavily on forests. The analysis conducted in this dissertation represents a comprehensive approach of assessing several fundamental social and economic issues related to spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana; SBW) and forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria; FTC) management in the provinces of New Brunswick (NB) and Saskatchewan (SK). Contributions include: (i) conducting a large-scale, multi-regional, multi-pest analysis of public attitudes about SBW and FTC outbreaks and control options using a public opinion mail survey; (ii) estimating the potential social benefits of controlling future SBW and FTC outbreaks using the contingent valuation method; (iii) evaluating the economic efficiency and cost effectiveness of SBW control alternatives by incorporating results from a contingent valuation method and a biophysical impacts model (i.e., Spruce Budworm Decision Support System) into a benefit-cost analysis framework that considers both market and non-market values; and (iv) assessing long-term economic impacts of SBW outbreaks and control by coupling a biophysical impacts model with a recursive dynamic computable general equilibrium model. Important findings in this dissertation are as follows: (i) there is a high public support (at over 80%) of controlling future SBW and FTC outbreaks with biological control in NB and SK; (ii) controlling future SBW and FTC outbreaks could generate substantial social benefits in NB ($ ranging from $7.9-20.8 million per year) and SK (ranging from $11.7-32.4 million); (iii) the most cost-effective and economically efficient level of SBW control in NB is obtained by protecting 10-20% of the most susceptible forest areas; and (iv) a future SBW outbreak would have severe impacts on the NB economy (in the order of $3.3-4.7 billion in present-value output terms), however, the negative impacts could be significantly mitigated through forest pest management. The results of this dissertation have significantly enhanced understanding of fundamental socio-economic issues of SBW and FTC outbreaks and control and will help forest policy makers achieve more informed, publically acceptable, and economically efficient forest pest management strategies.