Assistant Professor of Forest Economics and Policy
223 Thomas Poe Cooper Building
Lexington, KY 40546-0073
(859) 257-1770
thomas.ochuodho@uky.edu



Research


Teaching

  • FOR 280 Forest Resource Policy and Law
  • FOR 320 Forest Valuation and Economics
  • FOR 602 Renewable Natural Resources in a Global Perspective (Team-Taught)
  • FOR 781 Special Problems in Forestry

Education

Ph.D. Forestry 2013, University of New Brunswick, Canada

M.Phil. Forest Economics and Management 2006, Moi University, Kenya

B.S. Forestry 1997, Moi University, Kenya


Current projects

Ecosystems Services Assessment and Valuation

Forests provide many benefits to society, which are often grouped into four main categories: (i) provisioning (timber, water, non-timber forest products); (ii) regulating (climate and flood control, carbon storage, water purification, clean air); (iii) supporting (pollination services, photosynthesis, biodiversity, wildlife habitat); and (iv) cultural (aesthetics, recreation, education). In the realm of economics, these benefits can be grouped into market and non-market goods and services. Market goods and services are those that are traded formally in the market and have market prices (i.e., the total value of timber log sales in Kentucky was $149 million in 2016). Non-market goods and services are not traded in markets and, hence, their economic value is not revealed in market prices despite the benefits accrued from them.

While market-based contributions of the forest sector to Kentucky’s economy are routinely reported (in excess of $14 billion in 2016), the value of non-market contributions are not well documented. This project will therefore help answer questions like: (i) what are the economic values of ecosystem services supplied by the forests in Kentucky?, (ii) how does a proposed change in forest management plan (if any) affect carbon sequestration and storage, sediment retention, water quality, and recreation?, (iii) which parts of a watershed provide the greatest ecosystem services (such as carbon sequestration, crop pollination, and tourism values?, (iv)  how will climate change and demographic growth impact forest ecosystem services provision?, and (v) what is the relationship between economic growth and ecosystem services supply? Such information would be critical for formulating forest policy and management strategies.


Economics of Forest Health Threats

Dr. Ochuodho is the leader of the Social Sciences Team of Forest Health Research and Education Center (FHC). FHC is a new collaborative research initiative between the Department of Forestry, University of Kentucky and U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station. The mission of FHC is to advance the conservation of forested ecosystems by integrating genetics-based biological research with social science (economics) research and education and outreach on factors affecting tree health and forest restoration. Currently, Dr. Ochuodho is working with FHC team to conduct a Delphi survey on health threats on oak trees in Eastern and Southern Regions of the U.S. Forest Service.

Oak (Quercus spp.) plays both ecological and economic critical roles in Kentucky, the surrounding region, and arguably the nation as a whole. Oak trees dominate Kentucky’s forests and have been an important part of the forest products industry for centuries. White oak (Quercus alba) in particular, is used in the production of veneer, lumber, stave logs (wood used to manufacture barrels or casks), and railroad ties. Kentucky’s largest wood export is new and used bourbon barrels which are made from white oak.  The second largest export is white oak lumber. Sustaining white oak resources is critical to the long-term survival and growth of forest products and distilling industries responsible for generating billions of dollars to local economies, and several hundred-thousand jobs throughout the region.

The goal of this survey is to identify the most significant threats (biotic and abiotic) to oaks in the regions and to gauge the potential impact of these threats on oaks. The data generated from this expert opinion survey series will be used to support subsequent analyses aimed at assessing the impact of these threats. The FHC is funded jointly by University of Kentucky and U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station.


Natural Capital Accounting

The Natural Capital Accounting project in Rwanda is supported by The Nature Conservancy through Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP). SNAPP is collaborative initiative between the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), The Nature Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Society. The project’s overarching goal is to collaborate and synthesize existing information to address key questions at the intersection of nature conservation, economic development, and human well-being in ways that will provide real world benefits for humankind. In particular, this project aims to establish the direct relationship between natural capital and the economy and the backward linkage. Results from this project will guide natural capital management policy agenda and also provide a practical field-tested case study for other regions.


Research Interests

  • Application of computable general equilibrium (CGE) modeling for policy analysis in natural resource management
  • Integrated environmental-economic modeling
  • Natural capital accounting and integration into system of national accounts
  • Applied econometrics
  • Economics of biofuels, renewable energy, and climate change 
Photo of Thomas Ochuodho