Instructor: Jim Tolisano
Rural private landowners in the state of New York are faced with increasing pressures to develop or otherwise dispose of lands with very high ecological value. A very limited job market, combined with rising recurrent household costs and one of the highest property tax bases in the U.S., has forced many rural landowners to degrade or eliminate intact ecosystems through residential subdivisions and commercial developments. Recent research suggests that this trend is likely to increase unless new income sources are made accessible. Particular pressure is currently being placed on rural landowners in areas with underlying shale deposits where extensive exploration for natural gas is being proposed through a controversial process known as “hydro-fracking”. Few landowners in this region are aware of the many income opportunities increasingly available from traditional natural resource-based and emerging ecosystem service markets. The New York Ecosystem Service Project (NYES) will increase private landowner awareness and understanding of these traditional and emerging ecosystem service markets, and establish a pilot project in the Catskills region of New York to demonstrate market viability. Students research and evaluate the following factors:
• The level of interest and willingness among rural private landowners and public agencies to engage in emerging
• The availability of commercially marketable volumes of certifiable product available
• The level of market demand to allow these markets to prove themselves
Students provide an assessment of the social, environmental, and economic risks and benefits from continued development of natural gas resources in rural New York in comparison with further development of ecosystem markets across the same landscapes.
Watch this capstone presentation on YouTube.