Third Quarter Journal Reviews

Third Quarter Journal Reviews

1. Can proximity to urban green spaces be considered a luxury? Classifying a non-tradable good with the use of hedonic pricing method Edyta Łaszkiewicz⁎, Piotr Czembrowski, Jakub Kronenberg  Ecological Economics 161 (2019) 237–247

In this article, the authors examine apartment rents in Lodz, Poland, to see whether proximity to “green space” (defined as parks, forests, cemeteries, and allotment gardens) could be considered a luxury good, by which the willingness to pay increases disproportionately as income increases. The authors examined how apartment rents varied according to distance to green space, while controlling for other factors such as square footage and other characteristics. Results demonstrate that proximity to parks and forests has a positive effect on apartment rents – in other words, the closer the park or forest, the higher the apartment rent. However, the results demonstrated that proximity to cemeteries has a negative effect on apartment rents. Although the authors did not discuss this, there is an environmental justice component at play here – if proximity to urban green space is considered a luxury good, then low-income housing is likely associated with a lack of urban green space.

2. From supply to demand factors: What are the determinants of attractiveness for outdoor recreation? Lea Tardieua, Laetitia Tuffery  Ecological Economics 161 (2019) 163–175

Sites such as national parks and other outdoor recreation parks must pursue the dual goal of environmental conservation and attracting recreation.   Managers of such sites constantly face the challenge of increasing visitors without destroying the attributes that appeal to such visitors in the first place.  However, models that predict how attractive a site is to recreation are typically different from those that predict how ecosystem services vary by site. Because of this, it is difficult for managers to evaluate land use tradeoffs. The authors of this study combine data on visitation to a national park in France with spatial data showing characteristics of the specific areas that were visited, and simultaneously relied on a model that predicts habitat quality (the InVEST software). The authors find a negative correlation between the attractiveness of a site to recreation and habitat quality, implying that the two goals (increasing recreation and preserving biodiversity and habitat quality) are at odds. This is not terribly surprising. However, the integration of the economic “travel cost” model with the habitat quality model may be helpful to evaluate the trade-offs arising from land use change proposals.

3. Microclimate effects of wind farms on local crop yields Daniel T. Kaffine Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 96 (2019) 159–173

In Maine, as well as in other states, the possibility of using wind farms to generate more renewable electricity has become a key strategy in mitigating climate change. In many cases, wind farms are sited on agricultural farms as a possible added source of income to farmers. However, one of the possible externalities of wind farms – the effect of wind farms on crop yields – has not been much studied in the economics literature. This article examines microclimate effects: the changes in local temperature, moisture, and carbon dioxide concentrations due to “vertical mixing, turbulence, and wakes created by wind turbines that extend well-beyond their local footprint” (p 159). The article itself is fascinating – describing the scientific microclimate effects of wind farms and their resulting effects on crop yields (soy, wheat, corn, hay, and wheat). Fortunately for advocates of wind power, effects of wind farms on crop yields are either positive (in the case of corn, soy, and hay) or statistically insignificant (in the case of wheat). 

4. The effects of recreational cannabis legalization on forest management and conservation efforts in U.S. national forests in the Pacific Northwest Mark Klassen⁎,1, Brandon P. Anthony Ecological Economics 162 (2019) 39–48

A fascinating and timely study, this article considers the effects of recreational marijuana legalization on forest management and conservation efforts.  The authors point out that illicit drug crop cultivation has actually been identified as a “major stressor impacting the management of public lands,” as over half of the marijuana plants eradicated in 2008 had been grown on public lands. The environmental impacts of such illegal cultivation has led to removal of native vegetation, diversion of natural waterways, agro-chemical pollution, and littering. Furthermore, safety concerns organized crime syndicates had made it difficult for national forest employees and researchers to pursue management goals. Finally, the US Forest Service had to spend resources on monitoring and enforcement, meaning that they could not devote those same resources to other pursuits. The authors attempted to discover whether the legalization of marijuana had reduced the amount of illegal grow sites, which in turn would reduce both environmental and safety concerns. They conclude that “the legalization of recreational cannabis is significantly correlated with a reduction in the annual number of discovered grow sites in national forests in Oregon, while found insignificant in Washington (47).”

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