Journal of Forest Economics > Vol 33 > Issue 1

Heterogeneous economic and behavioural drivers of the Farm afforestation decision

Mary Ryan, Teagasc Rural Economy and Development Programme, Ireland, , Cathal O’Donoghue, Policy Lab, Ireland, Stephen Hynes, SEMRU, Ireland
Suggested Citation
Mary Ryan, Cathal O’Donoghue and Stephen Hynes (2018), "Heterogeneous economic and behavioural drivers of the Farm afforestation decision", Journal of Forest Economics: Vol. 33: No. 1, pp 63-74.

Publication Date: 0/12/2018
© 0 2018 Mary Ryan, Cathal O’Donoghue, Stephen Hynes
JEL Codes:Q23Q57
Afforestation decisionLife-cycle analysisDistributional analysisTargeted financial incentives


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In this article:
Theoretical framework 
Results 1: characteristics of farms that plant/might plant forests 
Results II: logistic regressions of farms with forests and farms that might plant 


Using Ireland as a case study, this study examines the economic drivers of the farm afforestation decision for individual farms. Farm incomes and characteristics are observed across the distribution of livestock farmers, using a longitudinal dataset. Potential agricultural and forest income streams are generated and compared in a life-cycle theoretical framework, while the inclusion of attitudinal survey data in the analysis is shown to contribute significantly to the understanding of the planting decision. The study suggests that there is a cohort of younger farmers on larger holdings who might plant if potential forest income is greater than their agricultural income, but we also find that there is a cohort of older farmers on smaller holdings that will never plant, and for whom negative cultural attitudes are stronger than economic drivers. The study concludes that a ‘one size fits all’ programme based solely on financial incentives may not be the most appropriate means to encourage further farm afforestation and suggests that more targeted approaches may be necessary to nuance incentives to increase afforestation rates and facilitate the use of afforestation as an agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation mechanism.