An example of deforestation in Kalimantan, Indonesia
An example of deforestation in Kalimantan, Indonesia
26 February 2010

How much does it really cost to stop deforestation?

A UQ economics expert will help answer the complex question when he gives a public lecture at St Lucia next month.

Dr Colin Hunt, a visiting fellow in the UQ School of Economics and a researcher on the economics of climate change, will present “The real costs of stopping deforestation” at 3pm on March 26.

Dr Hunt said although no binding agreement had been reached at the Copenhagen climate change conference in December, one bright spot was the agreement by countries including Australia to devote billions of dollars to slow down deforestation, a major source of greenhouse gases.

Last year Dr Hunt published a book on forests and climate change – Carbon sinks and climate change: forests in the fight against global warming. Prior to Copenhagen, he assisted the Papua New Guinean government on the costs and benefits of slowing down deforestation and helped devise its greenhouse policy.

“What is intriguing is the assumption by many researchers that it will be cheap to stop the clearing of tropical forests,” Dr Hunt said.

“This is because of a poor understanding of the multiple beneficiaries of logging, agricultural production and processing.”

Dr Hunt will present the methodology and the results of his research at the seminar to illustrate the economic and social costs of stopping deforestation in Papua New Guinea.

“Companies must be compensated for loss of profits, but so also must governments for loss of taxes. And then there are the working people who are expected to give up the income and employment opportunities of exploiting their forests. Such opportunities may be few in developing countries such as PNG.”

Dr Hunt will also discuss general problems of underestimating the cost of conservation initiatives, using the expansion of “no-take” zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park as an example.

“Inadequate compensation of stakeholders for their income lost can lead to a political backlash that threatens the whole conservation initiative,” he said.

"The real costs of stopping deforestation" takes place in room 103 in the Colin Clark Building (building 39) at 3pm on March 26. All are welcome.

Media: Dr Hunt (07 3349 3017, or Cameron Pegg at UQ Communications (07 3365 2049,