Category: GDAE
Two Presentations on Sustainable Forestry

This past week, Tufts was host to two guest speakers talking about sustainable forest management. The first, last Monday, was a representative of Mexican reforestation initiative Ejido Verde. At the Environmental Studies department’s weekly Lunch & Learn, Tufts lecturer in environmental anthropology and MIT doctoral candidate Tod Özden-Schilling spoke about the use of computer models in forestry research.

CEO of Ejido Verde, Shaun Paul, stopped by GDAE at Tufts to present on their sustainable and equitable model for pine resin production in the Mexican state of Michoacán. “Ejido Verde” means green “ejido,” which is the term used in Mexico for communally owned land used for agriculture, or in this case, agroforestry.

This video was produced as part of a crowdfunding campaign, which raised their initial goal of $200,000 in only two weeks. As explained in the video, the Purépecha people now have income from over 2400 hectares of pine resin production. Pine resin is used in products including chewing gum, adhesives, food preservatives and more. Mexico is the fifth largest producer of pine resin, with 95% of that coming from the state of Michacán. Mexico has a huge variety of pines, many of which produce large quantities of valuable resin. China, Indonesia and Brazil are by far the largest producers.

Agroforestry in Michoacán

Agroforestry in Michoacán. Source:

Here’s how the model works: Working with the communal owners of ejidos, mostly in Michoacán, Ejido Verde brings funding and sustainable forest management education to provide an initial investment of ~$2000 per hectare of ejido. These are long-term loans, a result of the fact that it takes at least 8-10 years for a pine forest to become ready for tapping. Ten years later, a hectare of pine forest can be expected to generate $3,400 in revenue per year, for eighty years. Cultivation and maintenance are paid through debt financing in the short-term, providing much needed job opportunities to the region. Longer-term, the ejido benefits from a stable revenue source for years to come. Ejido Verde takes 10% of the value of resin sold by the ejido to the pine resin industry. On top of this revenue, the Mexican government pays the ejidos for the benefits of reforestation.

Ejido Verde struggles with reconciling the need for biodiversity in long-term sustainability with the need for short- and long-term revenue to sustain the indigenous people of Michoacán. Pine beetles are an issue affecting many ejidos, but because the system is scattered and not confined to one large area, spread of pests is somewhat controlled.

The Mountain Pine Beetle. Source:

The Mountain Pine Beetle. Source: Mountain_pine_beetle#/media/File:Dendroctonus_ponderosae.jpg

Tom Özden-Schilling spoke to the Environmental Studies Department about the contention between field-based vs computer model based forestry research. With ever increasing technological tools at the fingertips of forestry scientists, the world of “experimental forests” is diminishing. Computer models are thought by many to be capable of turning what used to be a scientific problem into an engineering problem: What features can be put into place in order to grow the most trees at the fastest rate. Unlike experimental forests, these computer models were unable to account for the presence of the mountain pine beetle, which swept through British Columbia’s forests between 2001-2009. More about Özden-Schilling’s is outlined in this blog post of his from 2014.


GDAE Leontief Prize: Amit Bhaduri & Diane Elson
| March 14, 2016 | 12:18 pm | Events, GDAE | Comments closed

Development and Equity

Introductions by GDAE's Neva Goodwin. photo by: Erin Coutts

Introductions by GDAE’s Neva Goodwin. photo by: Erin Coutts

The Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts hosted their annual award ceremony for the Leontief Prize in Ballou Hall last week. The event was sponsored by the Tufts Institute for the Environment and the Tufts Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The prize, named after Wassily Leontief, is awarded for advancing the frontiers of economic thought and supporting just and sustainable societies. The prize, given out since 2000, has been awarded to 32 distinguished economists over the years, including Amartya Sen (Nobel Prize winner for welfare economics), John Kenneth Galbraith (market power and consumer sovereignty) and Herman E. Daly (Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development).

Diane Elson: University of Essex

Diane Elson (left), University of Essex

Diane Elson, emeritus professor at the University of Essex, spoke about her research on development through a gender lens. She prefaced her talk with the following quote, “Standard macroeconomic policy is not gender neutral. It emphasizes the expansion of market activity and devalues non-market activity. Development measures should be adjusted to account for this.” Elson quoted numbers from research on gender and non-market activity. A man in Buenos Aires spends an average of 89 minutes per day on unpaid work, while a woman spends 256 minutes per day. Adding paid work, men average 422 minutes per day and women 436 minutes per day. In India the numbers for men and women are 36 and 354, respectively. These numbers also show the magnified effect of this disparity in paid/unpaid work distribution in relatively less developed countries. By Elson’s estimates, putting a monetary value (even just minimum wage) on unpaid work would inflate GDPs by 20-40%. She suggests a system to remedy this siguation: Recognize, Reduce, and Redistribute. Recognize unpaid work by incorporating it into GDP. Reduce the imbalance by improving, for example, water infrastructure, which women in developing countries spend disproportionate time and energy gathering. Finally, redistribute unpaid work by offering parental leave for new fathers in addition to new mothers.

Amit Bhaduri, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Amit Bhaduri, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Amit Bhaduri’s lecture focused on issues of power in economics. He says that current economic curricula teach the subject as “Adam Smith minus Karl Marx.” Bhaduri’s work has covered many fields, but his driving force is the question of how people relate to and dominate one another. He calls into question the ideas of the “mutual dependence” of labor and capital (or his other example, the lion and rabbit) and “market equilibrium” in an efficient market He stressed the necessity of equality in order to achieve true mutual dependence, otherwise the mutual nature of the relationship falls apart. There are few cases in which market equilibrium is achieved. Standard economic theory requires that all firms in a market are in perfect competition, and therefore must accept the going rate for selling their goods and services. It is more likely that firms, often using misinformation campaigns, act more as price-setters than price-takers. Bhaduri also spoke on the history of banking regulation in the United States and development and growth strategies in India.

A video recording of the event will be released shortly, found here.