Pinchot Institute for Conservation

Washington, DC, United States

Pinchot Institute for Conservation

Washington, DC, United States
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Zhang D.,Auburn University | Stenger A.,University of Strasbourg | Stenger A.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Harou P.A.,Pinchot Institute for Conservation
Journal of Forest Economics | Year: 2015

Planted forests are seen as a means to meet increasing demand for timber and environmental services and thus to achieve sustainable forest development. In this paper, we use the Faustmann-Hartman silvicultural investment model to demonstrate how policy instruments influence planted forest development and review such a development in China, the U.S., Brazil, and France. We find that planted forests emerge because of scarcity in timber and environmental services and develop in response to economic and policy and institutional instruments, including secure property rights, stumpage price policy, and efficient forestry governance and administration. © 2015 Department of Forest Economics, SLU Umeå, Sweden.

Ince P.J.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Skog K.E.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Sample V.A.,Pinchot Institute for Conservation
Journal of Forest Economics | Year: 2011

This paper describes an approach to modeling U.S. forest sector market and trade impacts of expansion in domestic wood energy consumption under hypothetical future U.S. wood biomass energy policy scenarios. The U.S. Forest Products Module (USFPM) was created to enhance the modeling of the U.S. forest sector within the Global Forest Products Model (GFPM), providing a more detailed representation of U.S. regional timber supply and wood residue markets. Scenarios were analyzed with USFPM/GFPM ranging from a baseline 48% increase to a 173% increase in annual U.S. consumption of wood for energy from 2006 to 2030, while consumption of fuelwood in other countries was assumed to increase by around 65% in aggregate. Results indicate that expansion in wood energy consumption across the range of scenarios may have little impact on U.S. forest sector markets because most of the expansion can be supplied by logging residues that are presently not being utilized and also mill residues that will increase in supply with projected expansion in wood product output in the decades ahead. However, analysis also suggests that forest sector markets could be disrupted by expansion in wood energy if much higher levels of wood energy consumption occur, or if projected recovery in housing demand and wood product output does not occur, or if more restrictive constraints or higher costs are imposed on wood residue utilization. © 2011.

Pinchot C.C.,Pinchot Institute for Conservation | Schlarbaum S.E.,University of Tennessee at Knoxville | Clark S.L.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Schweitzer C.J.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 2 more authors.
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2014

Putatively blight-resistant advanced backcross chestnut seedlings will soon be available for outplanting on a regional scale. Few studies have examined the importance of silvicultural treatment or seedling quality to chestnut reintroduction in the U.S. This paper examines results from a silvicultural study of high-quality chestnut seedlings on the Cumberland Plateau of southeastern Kentucky. Three hundred American (Castanea dentata), three hundred advanced backcross (BC2F3) and one hundred fifty Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) seedlings were planted in three silvicultural treatments, ranging from low-light to high-light, on the Daniel Boone National Forest in Mar 2009. Seedlings were planted in a completely randomized design with a split-plot treatment arrangement, with silvicultural treatments as whole plots, and species in a randomized block design in the sub-plot. After three years, chestnut seedlings in the high-light treatment sites grew significantly more in height and root collar diameter, on average, compared to seedlings in the moderate- and low-light treatments. Survival did not differ among silvicultural treatments and averaged 64% over all sites. Low survival was due in part to the non-native root-rot disease organism, Phytophthora cinnamomi, which was confirmed at the site. This study suggests that while chestnut grows best in highlight environments, the species can become established under varying light-levels, which will give forest managers flexibility when choosing management strategies for chestnut reintroduction.

News Article | December 20, 2016

Fourth in a series on tackling poverty while protecting the environment.  Read the intro. The settlement of Cristóbal Colón, like most tiny towns scraped into the backcountry, was rough. There were no jobs in the rural community in western Ecuador, so people were leaving to eek out a meager existence in the capital. Houses were empty and alcoholism was a serious problem, Maria Quezada, a longtime resident of Colón, told me. “For those that remained there was only one option: clear the forest and establish plantations,” she said. Most of the surrounding Chocó rainforest had already been chopped down for cattle ranching, cocoa plantations, and plywood companies. So when a timber company cut a logging road into the forest near the town, the area was primed for deforestation. But this isn’t the standard story of paradise lost. It’s a story about how economic development can save the environment. In the last piece, I described a conservation project that failed because it put the environment before people. The people in Colón reversed that formulation and, by getting the economics right, they have also reversed what seemed like an inevitable trend toward deforestation. The forest — and the town — are rebounding. “Families have come back to their houses because now there is sustainable industry,” Quezada said. That industry consists of a local timber business called EcoMadera, which provides an alternative to the big logging companies and plywood factories. It pumps $550,000 in salaries into Colón each year, employing 66 people in a town of around 500 families — providing incomes well above the country’s norm. The company plants balsa trees on previously deforested land, which grow quickly and are ready for harvest within five years. The company is able to sustainably harvest wood while returning cleared areas to natural forest. In the last 30 years, Quezada, EcoMadera’s plant manager, has seen a transformation in her community’s approach to the forest. In 1985, her parents carried their possessions to Colón in a boat, up the Canandé river. The government had opened the area for homesteading, in much the same way the United States government opened up the middle of the country in 1864. These land reforms swept away the already much diminished rights of indigenous peoples, like the Awá and Tsáchila, who had inhabited the land long before the Inca and Spanish arrived, and treated them like any other settler: If you established a livelihood on a plot of land, that plot was yours. But the livelihood part was easier said than done. How do you support yourself in an area where there are no roads, no electrical lines, and no farms? Well, you clear an opening in the forest, build a house, and push seeds into the earth. But subsistence farming is never enough. Even in remote Colón, a town without a grocery store, people found that they needed cash when a grandparent got sick, when tools broke, and when children went off to school. A few years after the Quezada family arrived, men came up the river to tell the community that a plywood factory would give them cash in exchange for timber. And so the people of Colón began cutting down the forests. They worked hard. The men swung axes while the women and children hauled the wood away. The families weren’t just clearing their own homesteads; they were cutting down forests surrounding the village. The people needed money, and the government wanted the homesteaders to succeed, and so no police force descended to enforce anti-deforestation laws. Quezada’s mother had an entrepreneurial streak — she raised livestock on cleared land, earning enough to send her children to school in the nearest city, Santo Domingo. Quezada was among the lucky ones. Other children stayed in Colón and worked. Subsistence farming and logging allowed the settlers to survive in the early days, but everyone was just getting by. The black-market prices for timber were low. Some people ended up in debt to the plywood companies. As the years went by, the town began to empty as people gave up and moved into cities, leaving behind denuded plots. Several nonprofits and government aid organizations were operating in the region by the time Quezada finished school and returned to Colón in 1997. These groups did a lot of good work, said Peter Pinchot, a fellow at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation who later became involved with the community. But when these organizations left, “the people went back to plan A,” Pinchot said, “cutting down trees and farming in difficult, marginal soil.” The aid organizations had worked with the people in Colón to establish local businesses, but they failed to connect to markets, which meant people went back to clearing the forest. But the community members kept mulling over ideas for making money with the development workers who passed through the town. A Peace Corps volunteer, David Smith, told Pinchot about what seemed like the most promising idea for connecting the community to the wider economy: sustainable forestry. Quezada saw the beginnings of the project. At first, she said, many were skeptical. Like the people of Tres Reyes, Mexico (which I wrote about in the last piece), they had seen would-be do-gooders come and go. But this wasn’t a business plan hatched by outsiders. The community members, with their local knowledge, collaborated with the Peace Corps and the Pinchot Institute. And it wasn’t an impractical scheme to generate money with zero environmental impact. They didn’t want to sell butterfly-wing art; they wanted to sell wood: a tangible resource with a proven market. Today, EcoMadera is profitable. Members of the community manage and own most of it. The company’s lightweight balsawood is shaped into the raw material used to make the long blades for wind turbines all over the world. The business gave people in Colón security, and allowed them to take the long view on managing the forest. “When people move up into the bottom of the middle class, they no longer have an incentive to knock down trees,” Pinchot said. You can see this play out all over the world. Tree canopy increases as countries become richer. Trees have made a comeback across the affluent northern countries. This trend is so prevalent that academics have given it a label: the forest transition. Growth and prosperity allow people, like those in Colón, to reduce the strain they put on the land while also increasing — let’s not forget — the amount of energy they use. In terms of land use, people tend to go from inefficiently extracting resources from a large area when poor, to more sustainable use of smaller areas as they get more money. When he was younger, Pinchot would have scoffed at the notion that developing a timber industry could save a forest. His grandfather, the paterfamilias of American forestry, Gifford Pinchot had stressed this point, writing, “The first principle of conservation is development.” But that seemed crazy to Peter Pinchot, who, as a young environmentalist, mostly wanted to stop development. It was only after spending time in places like Colón that he saw his grandfather’s point. “To paraphrase Churchill, ‘Capitalism is the worst way to organize human societies, except all the others,’” Pinchot told me over the phone. That doesn’t mean he or the people of Colón have simply embraced free-market economics — if that were the case, there would have been no need for a project at all. There’s something of a Marxist critique of capitalism baked into EcoMadera: It’s designed to deliver wealth to the community and empower women like Quezada, rather than enrich a single owner. Spreading the wealth to the people who need it most is also critical for the environment. The challenge around the world is to help poor communities skip past the ugly deforestation stage of development and go straight to the prosperous reforestation stage. That will require economic growth that actually benefits the poor. The shift from cutting down trees to planting them goes hand in hand with a larger set of changes: increasing wealth, decreasing birth and death rates, and a decreasing share of the population employed in the extraction of natural resources — like logging and farming. The academic jargon for this larger economic shift is structural transformation (which I wrote about here). Historically, structural transformation has been the only way that large populations of people move out of poverty. You can see signs of this kind of transformation at the micro-level in Colón. Trees are growing back in deforested areas. There’s a sense of hope — it’s become a place worth saving. For Quezada, it’s home. It’s a place she’s helped to make more beautiful and prosperous. “Look, I have a daughter.” Quezada told me. “I want her to study, and to contribute and to support this community. And I want our friends, and our children to have the opportunity to be professionals, and to contribute, to manage the resources here, and take care of the forest, which is alive, for the entire world.”

Alaric Sample V.,Pinchot Institute for Conservation | Patrick Bixler R.,Pinchot Institute for Conservation | McDonough M.H.,Michigan State University | Bullard S.H.,Stephen F. Austin State University | Snieckus M.M.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
Journal of Forestry | Year: 2015

In 2013, a national survey of forestry employers was conducted to assess the extent to which forestry degree programs at US universities and colleges are providing students with the knowledge and skills needed for contemporary professional practice in forestry. Results were compared with similar surveys dating as far back as 1911, with particular reference to a comprehensive survey conducted in 1998. The 2013 survey also queried recent forestry graduates, faculty members, and deans to compare their perspectives on performance relative to importance using a comprehensive list of general skills and technical competencies based on the Society of American Foresters (SAF) accreditation standards, the SAF certified forester standards, and social skills identified through previous research. Results highlight the continued shortcomings of social science education in forestry degree programs. Employers consider today’s graduates generally well prepared (relative to importance) in technical forestry competencies. The greatest discrepancies between importance and preparedness were in the human dimensions of natural resource management, especially managing conflict, communicating effectively in the workplace, and communicating effectively with clients and the public. Deans and directors of programs reported particular consistent challenges, including low enrollments, lack of diversity, and curriculum pressures. Diversity continues to be weak among forestry students (and faculty); 97% of surveyed employers indicated they had difficulty in recruiting non-Caucasian employees for professional forestry positions. © 2015 Society of American Foresters.

Bixler R.P.,Pinchot Institute for Conservation | Bixler R.P.,Colorado State University
Society and Natural Resources | Year: 2014

Decentralization of governance is an emerging trend in many natural resource sectors in both developed and developing countries. Despite the normative agenda of community-based natural resource management for social and ecological outcomes, a shift to multilevel or polycentric theorizing is warranted. Polycentric governance recognizes the importance of cross-scale interactions, as well as the horizontal and vertical institutional linkages of authority, networks, and markets in which community institutions are embedded. Based on qualitative community forestry research in Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada, this article explores the themes of livelihood and local economy, collaborative forest planning and participation, and environmental governance. Bottom-up empirical evidence suggests that viewing community forestry through a polycentric governance network is necessary for theorizing complex cross-scale dynamics. Incentivizing policies that encourage the development of polycentric systems for natural resource governance is important for maintaining local benefits, while increasing adaptive capacity to deal with complex social-ecological challenges. © 2014 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Cheng A.S.,Colorado State University | Gutierrez R.J.,University of Minnesota | Cashen S.,University of Minnesota | Becker D.R.,University of Minnesota | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Forestry | Year: 2016

In 1993, a group of national forest stakeholders, the Quincy Library Group, crafted a proposal that intended to reduce wildfire risk, protect the California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis), restore watersheds, and enhance community stability by ensuring a predictable supply of timber for area sawmills and biomass for energy plants. The Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act of 1998 codified this proposal, directing the USDA Forest Service to conduct forest treatments on 40, 000–60, 000 acres per year by creating defensible fuel profile zones and logging by group-and individual tree-selection methods. The law also designated an Independent Science Panel to review monitoring studies, administrative studies, and research to assess efficacy of the implementation and achievement of goals. Although several goals were achieved, implementation fell short of treatment and volume goals, and evidence was lacking to make conclusive judgments about environmental impacts. Shortcomings were due to differing interpretations of the Act’s prescriptive intent, changes in management direction, compounding economic factors, appeals and litigation, variation in site-specific forest conditions, and variation in approaches among national forests and districts. Most notable was a lack of monitoring of the treatment effects on California spotted owl populations and other environmental concerns. These findings suggest that attempts to legislate prescriptive, collaboratively developed proposals may not account for the complex biophysical, management, social, and economic contexts within which national forest management occurs. These findings also suggest that current national forest policies and directives promoting collaboration should also be accompanied by a commitment to monitoring and adaptive management. © 2015 Society of American Foresters.

Sample V.A.,Pinchot Institute for Conservation
Journal of Sustainable Forestry | Year: 2013

Wood biomass is expected to fulfill multiple renewable energy objectives as a flexible feedstock for the production of liquid transportation fuels, renewable electricity, and thermal energy. This article analyzes the projected demand for biomass associated with federal mandates for renewable electricity and transportation fuels. The analysis finds that the combined demand for the biomass needed to produce liquid biofuels and electricity could result in more than a twofold increase in volume of wood harvested annually in the United States. Several recommendations are offered for maximizing the potential for woody biomass to contribute to renewable energy and climate change mitigation goals. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Evans A.M.,Forest Guild | Perschel R.T.,Forest Guild | Kittler B.A.,Pinchot Institute for Conservation
Journal of Sustainable Forestry | Year: 2013

Growing interest in bioenergy has motivated the development guidelines for the harvest and retention of forest biomass. In general, wood that would have been left on-site under traditional harvest conditions may be removed in a biomass harvest, which can mean a reduction of dead wood and other ecological effects. Recently developed biomass harvesting guidelines cover topics such as dead wood, wildlife and biodiversity, water quality and riparian zones, soil productivity, silviculture, and disturbance. This article reviews the commonalities of current guidelines and provides insights for future efforts to ensure sustainability of biomass harvests. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Anagnostakis S.L.,U.S. Department of Soil and Water | Pinchot C.C.,Pinchot Institute for Conservation
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2014

American chestnut trees were an important source of timber in Connecticut until chestnut blight disease reduced them to understory shrubs. Breeding begun in 1930 has now produced trees with enough resistance to initiate field trials in the forest. Biological control by hypovirulence viruses is being used in the plots in an effort to keep native trees alive. If native trees cross with the planted trees with resistance, future generations should have increased resistance to chestnut blight disease and the genetic diversity of the population will be increased.

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