Gund Institute for Ecological Economics

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Gund Institute for Ecological Economics


The Gund Institute for Ecological Economics unites pioneering experts, leading educators, students, and others from around the world and across a wide variety of academic and environmental disciplines. Gund Fellows are researchers, educators, and practitioners in ecological economics and design appointed as faculty or adjunct faculty in various Colleges and Schools throughout the University of Vermont. Gund Affiliates are individuals from various organizations outside of the University of Vermont working with the Gund Institute on current projects and initiatives.

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  • Ross, D. S.; Wemple, B. C. (Forest Ecology and Management, 2011
      Soil nitrification rates in northeastern USA forested ecosystems appear to be regulated by a number of factors and are likely influenced by continuing N deposition. Among other factors, rates across small watersheds have been found to relate to the soil C/N ratio and tree species composition. We measured potential net nitrification rates in the Ranch Brook watershed, a relatively large (9.6 km(2)) forested basin in north central Vermont, to determine if relationships found in smaller catchments were evident at a larger scale. The stream network was divided into eight reaches to determine the variability within the watershed. Sampling points (6-15 along each reach, total of 74) were established along transects that paralleled the major watershed tributaries. At each point, we measured net rates of nitrification and ammonification in the uppermost humified soil horizon (Oa or A), using a one-day lab incubation. The basal area and density of all tree species were measured in a 10-m radius plot, along with a number of topographic metrics such as slope, aspect and elevation. In a stepwise regression, 39% of the variability in net nitrification rates was explained by the density of Picea rubens, elevation and the thickness of the forest floor. When net nitrification rates were normalized to soil C concentration, 60% of the variability was explained by soil N concentration, C/N ratio, elevation and the density of P. rubens. The significant negative influence of P. rubens density, and not basal area, was consistent with a previous cross-site study of 10 smaller northeastern USA watersheds. No influence of sugar maple basal area or density was found. Other relationships, similar to those found in smaller watersheds, were net nitrification rates predicted by the fraction of inorganic N as NO(3)(-), net nitrification predicted by the C/N ratio and the C/N ratio predicted by tree species. The consistent influence of tree species on potential net nitrification rates demonstrates a role for future forest management in influencing ecosystem processes. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Li, Wen Jun; Ali, Saleem H.; Zhang, Qian (Journal of Environmental Management, 2007
      The semi-private property rights arrangement called the Household Production Responsibility System (HPRS) was started in the early 1980s in Xilingol pasture of Inner Mongolia (China), and stimulated the development of stockbreeding. The grassland has been degrading severely with increasing numbers of livestock. Based on a historical review of property rights regimes in Inner Mongolia and empirical surveys in Xilingol pasture during 2001-2003, this paper assesses the implementation of HPRS and its impacts on incomes of households as well as the environmental impact on the grassland. It was found that HPRS does not mitigate the "Tragedy of the Commons", instead it has exacerbated the situation. It was also found that co-management of grassland and livestock among a few households presents a sustainable use of grassland to develop livestock breeding. We conclude with the recommendation that small-scale collective property rights systems should be encouraged in Xilingol pasture of Inner Mongolia. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Russell-Roy, E. T.; Keeton, W. S.; Pontius, J. A.; Kerchner, C. D. (Canadian Journal of Forest Research-Revue Canadienne De Recherche Forestiere, 2014
      Decades of heavy-cutting and high-grading in the northeastern United States provide an opportunity for rehabilitation and increased carbon stores, yet few studies have examined the feasibility of using carbon markets to restore high-graded forests. We evaluated the effectiveness of rehabilitation on 391 ha of high-graded forest in Vermont, USA. Thirteen silvicultural scenarios were modeled over 100 years using the Forest Vegetation Simulator. Carbon offsets were quantified with the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) and American Carbon Registry (ACR) protocols and evaluated under voluntary and regulatory carbon price assumptions. Results indicate that management scenarios involving no harvest or low-intensity harvest yield the greatest incentives, yet these scenarios include a range of short-term rehabilitation options that provide flexibility for landowners. The choice of protocol also significantly influences results. Although ACR consistently generated more offsets than CAR for the same scenarios (p < 0.05), the protocols yielded similar net present values of US$121-US$256.ha(-1) under high offset price assumptions. These returns are comparable to those generated from timber harvest alone under more intensive management scenarios. While timber will continue to be a primary source of revenue for many landowners, carbon markets may increasingly appeal as a new incentive for restoring high-graded forests.
  • Schmitt Filho., A. L.; Farley, J.; Alvez, J. P.; Alarcon, G.; Rebollar, P. M. (Springer Verlag, Dordrecht, Netherlands.Dordrecht, Netherlands, 2013
      There are no longer acceptable trade-offs between agriculture and ecosystem services: Both are essential and at risk. Agroecology may be uniquely capable of providing both. However, there are real costs to promoting agroecology that someone must pay, but any payment scheme must recognize that many of the services provided as well as the resources required to provide them are both public goods. Payments to individual farmers do little to provide these services, especially if they are contingent upon provision. Public sector investments are required. Since the public goods provided by these investments cross political boundaries, payments for these investments should flow from those governments or collective institutions that benefit to those that will provide the services, supplementing resources invested by the latter.

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