Introduction Ricardo’s Principles contain just a single reference to forestry, as a whole, although in a well-known and remarkable passage in Chapter II, ‘On Rent’. There, a rigorous notion of rent is introduced, and Adam Smith is criticized for using the term in an inconsistent way:
Adam Smith [. . .] tells us that the demand for timber, and its consequent high price, in the more southern countries of Europe, caused a rent to be paid for forests in Norway, which could before afford no rent. Is it not however evident, that the person who paid, what he thus calls rent, paid it in consideration of the valuable commodity which was then standing on the land, and that he actually repaid himself with a profit, by the sale of the timber? If, indeed, after the timber was removed, any compensation were paid to the landlord for the use of the land, for the purpose of growing timber or any other produce, with a view to future demand, such compensation might justly be called rent, because it would be paid for the productive powers of the land; but in the case stated by Adam Smith, the compensation was paid for the liberty of removing and selling the timber, and not for the liberty of growing it.