ANTH 469A | ENVIR 495F

Ecology, Economy, and Politics of Resource-Extraction Ecosystems

Spring Quarter 2014
Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30-10:50, MEB 235
Field trips Saturdays April 19, May 3, and May 31

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Forest General
Forest Local
Forest Post-Mortem
Aquaculture Local
Aquaculture Post-Trip
Aquaculture Global
Dairy General
Dairy Local
Dairy Post-Mortem

Forest Products


Readings for Week Two: Forests at the World and National Scales

This week we will be dealing with several different aspects of forests in general: On Tuesday, the extent and condition of forests as well as the production and trade in forest products; and on Thursday forests as sources of energy and of ecosystem services.

Tuesday, April 8

Today we will read and discuss materials that will familiarize you with US and world patterns of forest and their effects on ecosystems and climate. By midnight on Monday, April 7, you should post your answers to at least one of the questions pertaining to each segment of the class. We will have a general class discussion, informed by your readings and the answers you write in your posts.

Class segment 1: World and US forests: overview
Begin by having a quick look at the FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 and at the introduction and chapters 1-5 of the USFS Future of America's Forests and Rangelands. In many cases, to save time you can look at tables and charts, and skim the prose. Your posts and our discussion will concern the following questions:
  • What do you think are the most important reasons why we are concerned with preserving forests worldwide?
  • Are there significant differences between the way we should regard temperate and tropical forests?
Class segment 2: Forest products: production and trade
On this topic, your posts and our discussion will center around the following questions:
  • What is the best way to balance forest preservation with forest production?
  • What does "sustainable forestry" mean?

Thursday, April 10

Today we will devote the first two sections of class to forests as sources of energy and the final segment to forests as sources of ecosystem services.

Background: Biofuels and the world energy budget
First have a look at some statistics on world and US energy use, by dinking around on the International Energy Agency 's Key World Energy Statistics and the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook Early Release . Pay particular attention to the sources of energy and the proportion of biomass energy, which is growing but still small. When you've finished reading and dinking, but in no event later than midnight on Wednesday, April 9, you should post a short piece (200-300 words, unless you're really inspired) on what you've learned from reading about world energy trends and how it makes you feel. We will not spend class time specifically on this topic; it is background that you need to know when you consider the role of forests in energy production.

Class segment 1: Two kinds of biomass energy
There are two basic kinds of biofuel production, if we look at it from a cross-scale ecosystem point of view.
First look at two good overviews of biofuels, and notice the difference between the two most important types of biofuels: those generated from crops grown specifically for that purpose, and those generated from residues of other kinds of operations: For the first section of the class today, two volunteers will report to the class on the question of whether there is any reason to produce crops for biofuels or not.

Class segment 2: Forest residues as biofuels
In this unit on forest products, we are primarily concerned with the second kind of biofuels: those generated from residues. We will have an opportunity to see this kind of biofuel production both on our April 19 trip to the Yakama Nation and on our May 31 trip to the Lynden dairy farming region. To get a good idea of these and where they fit in both our energy budget and our forest ecology, read For the second section of today's class, two more volunteers will report on the question of how much we could conceivably rely on residue biofuels to meet our energy needs as we transition away from fossil fuels.

Class segment 3: Forests and ecosystem services
Here we take time to introduce the concept of ecosystem services, by reading the two scholarly articles from a special issue of Ecological Economics volume 69 (2010): Two final volunteers will report to the class on the arguments about ecosystem services and whether or not they can be quantified and commodified. They should summarize the arguments both for and against quantification and commodification.