Western Forest Economists meeting

Two weeks ago, I had a pleasure to participate in Western Forest Economists meeting, which was held in Fort Collins, in Colorado (USA). I would like to describe shortly what I have seen and experienced during that meeting. Click to continue…

Fort Collins – city of well-being and hoaxes

By the way, Fort Collins is famous mostly because of two things. First, the city has gathered many top rankings in recent years for health, well-being, and quality of life. For instance, in 2012, the city was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S. by CBS Money Watch. Second, probably many of you have heared about infamous Balloon boy hoax of October 15, 2009. The hoax was following: Richard and Mayumi Heene allowed a gas balloon filled with helium to float away into the atmosphere, and then claimed that their six-year-old son Falcon was inside it. Because police finally found that it was a hoax (boy was hiding in his home’s attic the entire time), father was sentenced to 90 days in jail and was ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution, and mom got only 20 days of weekend jail.

Western Forest Economists conference

Keynote speaker – professor John Loomis (CSU)

The conference begun with the presentation of invited keynote speaker, who was professor John Loomis from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University. Dr. Loomis is an expert in the economic valuation of non-marketed natural resources such as rivers, recreational fisheries, public lands, endangered species, water quality, and forest fire management. He was and is involved in many interesting projects performed for state and federal agencies throughout the U.S., and with colleagues in Chile, China, Spain and Vietnam.

Western Forest Economists
Professor John Loomis – keynote speaker at Western Forest Economists meeting in Fort Collins, CO.

At the Western Forest Economists meeting, Dr. Loomis was sharing his knowledge about economic valuation of ecosystem services, its problems, constraints and potential solutions in the future. He gave us an insights from his research methods, which include the use of surveys, and involve techniques such as the travel cost, contingent valuation and hedonic property methods. In my opinion, Dr. Loomis was a great keynote speaker, who, in simple way, explained the value of ecosystem services and issues related to their economic valuation. For me, one of the most interesting subjects during Dr. Loomis presentation was the concept of Benefit Relevant Indicators (BRIs), which I did not know before.

>> READ MORE: Ecosystem services, mountain forests and climate change

Shortly speaking, BRIs are measurable indicators that capture how ecosystem changes affect people. They consider whether there is demand for the ecosystem service, how much it is used or enjoyed/valued, and whether the site provides the access necessary for people to benefit from the service, among other considerations. In other words, the use of BRIs ensures that ecosystem services assessments measure outcomes that are demonstrably relevant to human welfare such as likelihood or occurrences of respiratory distress caused by wildfire smoke inhalation, number of bald eagle nests (an iconic species), and storage volume of wetland areas upstream of homes vulnerable to floods. More about BRIs you can read in the publication of Lydia Olander et al. 2015 entitled “Best Practices for Integrating Ecosystem Services into Federal Decision Making”. 

Gravity model of wood trade

Second interesting presentation, and inspiring in the same time, was the presentation of Justin Larson (UNC-Greensboro), who presented the use of gravity model in modelling international trade of forest products.

Justin Larson and his presentation about gravity models in international trade of forest products.

The idea behind gravity models is pretty straighforward. They state that the trade flow between countries depends primarily on the size of the economy of the two countries, and on many secondary factors that are hard to measure. The gravity models are mainly used to determine the trade or export potential of a country, and to predict the value of trade between countries in the future. Justin and his collegues did a great job, and honestly speaking I am looking forward to their publication with full set of results.

New Zealand and its different export strategies

The last presentation that I would like to describe shortly, was the presentation of Ivan Luketina from the University of Canterburry (New Zealand), who was presenting the results of his research. His main research question was, why does New Zealand export logs to some markets and sawn timber to others? It is well known that New Zealand expots logs to countries such as India, South Korea and China, while sawn timber to Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and USA.

>>READ MORE: Grow forests locally vs. buy foreign carbon credits? New Zealand will know!

Ivan Luketina perforemed an econometrical study, with log-log equation, where he analyzed the impact of factors such as GDP, tariffs and costs of labour on exported wood volume of analyzed wood assortments. More about Ivan’s result you will be able to read only on Forest Monitor soon. Stay tuned!

Ivan Luketina during his great presentation

>>READ ALSO: High log prices in New Zealand

Main photo: Forestry department at the Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Author of the photo: Rafal Chudy

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