But according to a new study, cattle ranchers can actually increase their cash flow--and hold onto their property--by practicing sound conservation. Writing in the June 12 weekly online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers from Stanford University and the University of Hawaii-Manoa conclude that long-term reforestation of pastureland can be good for the environment and the pocketbook by offering landowners the potential of earning nearly nine times more income than they would from traditional cattle ranching.
"In Hawaii, many ranchers are trying to find ways to keep control of their land," said Joshua H. Goldstein, lead author of the PNAS study and a doctoral candidate in Stanford's Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Environment and Resources. "Many of them care about conservation and are not interested in selling their land for development, so there's great interest in finding new strategies to create more revenue from land management."
In the study, Goldstein and his colleagues focused on private grazing lands that once held large stands of koa trees, a species of Acacia that can grow more than 100 feet tall and is found only in the Hawaiian Islands. Koa wood was used by early Hawaiians to build canoes, but upland forestlands were restricted to spiritual leaders. "Koa still has important cultural significance for native Hawaiians," Goldstein said. "Unfortunately, only 10 percent of the original forests are intact today."
Koa forests began disappearing in the 18th century when Europeans introduced livestock and logging to the islands. Studies have shown that the demi
Contact: Mark Shwartz