We investigated the potential economic impacts of future spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana
Clem.) (SBW) outbreaks on 2.8 million ha of Crown land in New Brunswick, Canada and compared an early intervention strategy (EIS) with foliage protection approaches. We coupled the Spruce Budworm Decision Support System (SBW DSS) with a Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model to assess the impacts of EIS and foliage protection on 0%, 5%, 10%, and 20% of susceptible Crown (publicly owned) forest, under moderate and severe SBW outbreak scenarios. Cumulative available harvest supply from 2017 to 2067 was projected to be reduced by 29 to 43 million m3
, depending upon SBW outbreak severity, and a successful EIS approach would prevent this loss. These harvest reductions were projected to reduce total economic output by $25 billion (CAD) to $35 billion. Scenarios using biological insecticide foliage protection over 20% of susceptible Crown forest area were projected to reduce losses to 6–17 million m3
and $0.5–4.1 billion. Depending upon SBW outbreak severity, EIS was projected to have benefit/cost ratios of 3.8 to 6.4 and net present values of $186 million to $353 million, both higher than foliage protection strategies. Sensitivity analysis scenarios of ‘what if’ EIS partially works (80% or 90%) showed that these produced superior timber harvest savings than the best foliage protection scenario under severe SBW outbreak conditions and generally superior results under moderate outbreak scenarios. Overall, results support the continued use of EIS as the preferred strategy on economic grounds to protect against SBW outbreaks on Crown land in New Brunswick.
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