Those making money from growing trees often tend to view their stands in financial terms. They often define value based on the financial profits that can be gained by felling those trees for, for example, timber, pulp or fuel.
But to transition to a more sustainable future, we need to begin seeing that trees are worth more in growth than they are when felled.
In order to come to an understanding of why this is the case, we first need to determine what we mean by ‘worth more’. Defining real, true and lasting value is key.
True value can be usefully explored within the idea of triple bottom line accounting. In this accounting methodology, value is not narrowly defined in terms of profit for an individual or company. Rather, it is defined in terms of:
- Environmental value.
- Social value.
- Broader economic value (for communities, and nations as a whole, as well as individuals and companies).
By looking at what can be gained in each of these three areas, it becomes much clearer that keeping trees standing adds far more true value than clear felling.
Trees can bring a wide range of tangible and intangible yields. And even working within the current financial framework, and monetising our tree growing efforts, we can still find ways to make a living while keeping trees in active growth.
There are many ways to make money from growing trees. And many of them do not involve felling them at all. Of course, we can make money from edible yields – both from the trees themselves and the other plants that thrive in a woodland or forest ecosystem.
There are plenty of non-timber forest products. And even if we do work with timber, coppicing and other management systems can allow for a yield without clear felling. Fallen wood and leaves can also be utilised and used to make money in a range of interesting ways.
We can also capitalise on people’s love of the natural, beautiful woodland and forest ecosystems we can create, and make money by welcoming visitors onto our land.