Friday, January 18, 2013

UCLA Tom Smith's New Central Africa Project

The National Science Foundation has made a wise investment in UCLA Professor Tom Smith's project focused on promoting natural resource conservation in Central Africa.  I'm a member of this research team and will work hard on this.  The central idea I expect to work on relates to land and opportunity cost.   Any piece of land that is devoted to ecological protection is a piece of land that could have been used for mining or some other extractive activity.  Returning to the "Venn Diagram", using spatial statistical models -- is it possible to identify geographic areas that are rich in biodiversity but whose economic value to resource extracters is low?   As climate change plays out,  are there geographic areas that could sustain biodiversity so that a large number of creatures can adapt to new climate conditions?   The link to economics is people and economic activity can impede the creatures.  Conversely, if new eco-tourism opportunities can be created than economic aspirations may be aligned with keeping the creatures alive and well.