Northern Forest A





Case Analysis

This case series focuses students on the boom-and-bust behaviors in the Northern Forest sawmill industry. Stakeholders, from landowners to sawmill owners to government officials to environmentalists, all want to make sure that the overall demand for saw logs, as driven by sawmill capacity, does not exceed the rate at which the trees are growing. They do not want sawmill demand to "overshoot" the productive capacity of the forest resource, a classic problem in renewable-resource economies that the region had experienced approximately a century earlier. Students are called upon to use system-thinking skills [analysis of reference modes of behaviors, causal-loop mapping, and stock-flow mapping] in creating their causal hypotheses of the underlying system structure. Students are asked to design system-structure policies to help sustain both the industry and the natural resources of the region.