We performed research in the Southern Cone of South America and in North Carolina USA that examined logging production, costs, innovation, and capacity. We compare the findings of this timber harvesting research up until 2015 between South America and the U.S. South, and draw conclusions regarding comparative forestry sector economic advantages. Logging production rates per firm have increased, reaching as much as 200,000 tons per year in the U.S. South, and more than 300,000 tons per year in the Southern Cone. Average total costs for logging were generally less in the Southern Cone, at less than $10 per ton for cut and load at roadside for transport, and more than $12.50 per ton for cut and load in the U.S. South. Logging firm innovation usually led to greater production and reduced costs, and focused mostly on improved timber harvesting systems and processes and use of firm performance monitoring, software, and training. Logging sector capacity was a concern in the U.S. South given aging owners and workers, and most likely to come from expansion by existing firms. The Southern Cone had better prospects to expand logging operations due to higher production rates and more favorable rural worker attitudes toward logging employment. Overall, logging production rates will increase; average total costs are apt to remain relatively stable; innovation will focus on system improvements and management skills such as measurement and monitoring; but capacity for sufficient in the woods and transport workforce will be a continuing issue.
Part of the book: Timber Buildings and Sustainability