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Austin Lamica

Graduate Student | Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources | North Carolina State University

2022 – 2023 Global Change Fellow

Statement of purpose:

Growing up in a small, rural community where forest based employment was critical to our local livelihoods, I have been exposed to the importance of this employment sector on rural communities. Over the years I have seen good times and bad times in this sector, often influenced by seasonal weather, improper management, and over harvesting. With changing climate factors, such as rainfall and temperature increases, potential threats arise to shorten timber harvesting seasons and operations, as well as influence changes in forest composition. These potential threats would have direct effects on the forest based employment sector, and thus on those rural economies that rely on forest based employment. This motivates me to undertake research assessing the economic impacts a changing climate may have on rural counties in the US South, where the forest products sector is a main economic driver. It is my goal to assess future rainfall and temperature projections to help these communities plan for sustainable adoption of forest management/ harvesting activities to maintain economic and ecological sustainability.

Description of research:

In this research, we plan on modeling historical forest-based employment and gross domestic product (GDP) with respect to temperature and precipitation in the forest-dependent rural counties in the US South using region-industry panel data. This will allow us to quantify the impacts of climate change on forestry-led rural economies, where forestry is often the top employer among manufacturing sectors. Based on historical trends and magnitudes of the impacts, we will stimulate the prospects of forest-based employment and GDP under various representative concentration pathways (RCPs), which are different climate pathways defined by radiative forcing, and shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs), which are different socioeconomic development trajectories of adoption and mitigation challenges in the future.  This will help us understand future dynamics and prospects of the forest-based rural economy.

Contact Information:


Faculty Advisor:

Rajan Parajuli (Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, NCSU)