Research

My main research broadly falls at the intersection of conservation, land use and ecosystem services. I explore the use of dynamic and spatial mathematical models to allocate land for conservation, and the use of non-market valuation methods, specifically choice experiments, to understand public preferences for conserving and restorating ecosystems.

I am also currently working on research topics in energy economics looking at subsidies for renewable energy and economic impacts from unconventional gas and oil, marine economics looking at preferenes for sustainable seafood. Part of the optimal land allocation work I engage in extends beyond conservation to look at optimal school districting.

research results pricing paper


Dynamic Reserve Design

I create a dynamic reserve design framework that can analyze the impact of location based amenity price effects on optimal site selection for conservation reserves. This work is done in collaboration with Hayri Onal and I presented the research at multiple conferneces including the WCERE 2010, the AAEA Annual Meeting and the pERE Seminar.

The first paper stemming from this research titled, "Amenity Driven Price Effects and Conservation Reserve Site Selection: A Dynamic Linear Integer Programming Approach" is published in Ecological Economics. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.06.015.


Preferences for and Opportunity Costs of REDD+ Contracts and Community Managed Forestry
I conducted a choice experiment survey of residents in rural Ethiopia and Nepal to understand preferneces and willigness to adop REDD+ contracts. This work is part of a larger collaborative effort between multiple institutions including ForestAction in Nepal, the Enviorenmental Economics Program for Ethiopa (EEPFE), Portland State University, the World Bank and University of Gothenberg and aims to understand the preferneces for, opportunity cost of and trade-offs among attibutes in REDD+ contracts. Resuls from this work has been presented at multiple department seminars, at international meetings and conferences including the WCERE 2014 and dissemination workshops including a REDD+ Workshop in Nepal in June 2014 and a REDD+ Workshop in Ethiopia in December 2014.

The first paper from this work is published in the Journal of Forests and Livelihoods. The work has also resulted in multiple World Bank Workin Papers (available here-Nepal and here-Ethiopia and multiple Policy Briefs that are available here.

Understanding Public Peferences for Ecosystem Restoration
Grasslands in Illinois: I use a choice experiment (conjoint analysis) survey of Illinois residents to understand public preferneces and WTP for restoring grasslands. In addition, the research analyzes how the prescence of substitutes impact preferences and studies the trade-offs among conservation attributes. This work is done in collaboration with Amy W. Ando and I presented the work at the inaugural AERE Summer Conference, the pERE Seminar, and the AAEA Annual Meeting.

The first paper from this research is published in Land Economics titled Valuing Grassland Restoration: Proximity to Substitutes and Trade-offs among Conservation Attributes. doi: 10.3368/le.90.2.237.

Coral Reefs in Okinawa: With Payal Shah, a researcher at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, I have been conducting a choice experiment survey in Okinawa, Japan to understand preferences for creating marine proected areas aimed at protecting coral reefs. In addition to understanding preferences we also study how the institutional arrangements, specificall top-down and botom-up management of the protected areas impact respondents' choices.

A preliminary analysis of the data was conducted by Nils Carlson '15, who presented this work at the Colby Libearl Arts Symposium in 2015 and submitted a paper to the Journal of Environmental and Resource Economics at Colby (JEREC). We are currently completing a manuscript and a book chapter to share the full results from this work. .

Riparian Tree Shade Program in Oregon: Thermal pollution, the degradation of water quality due to the change in water temperature, is increasingly seen as a pollutant that can have a significant impact on the local ecosystem. An environmentally friendly solution that has recently garnered a lot of interest is the use of riparian buffers to provide tree shade to naturally reduce thermal pollution. I am working with Clean Water Services and colleagues at Portland State University to understand the public’s willingness to pay for the additional ecosystem services generated by the restoration of riparian forest lands. .

Part of this work resulted in a Master's Thesis in Environmental Management for Rondi Schei, who presented preliminary results at the NAREA Annual Meeting in 2013. The final data were analysed by Gilbert Kigundu '15, who presented resutls at the 2014 Heartland Workshop, the Colby Liberal Arts Symposium and the Maine Econnomics Conference in 2015. We are currently completing a manuscript from this work.


Spatal Considerations and Multiple Land Use in Reserve Design

I study the optimal allocation of land for conservation using spatial mathematical models that incoporate both economic and ecological considerations and consider alternate land uses. This work is done in collaboration with Hayri Onal, research scientists at US Army ERDC CERL, land managers from Ft. Benning GA and Ft. Stewart GA. This work has been presented at multiple conferences including the AAEA Annual Meeting, SEA Annual Meeting, and the SHAPE Summit.

This work ongoing work has so far produced two published papers, a book chapter, and three technical reports.

Optimum Selection of Clustered Conservation Areas for Species Relocation. Ecological Modeling. Vol 224 Iss 1. 65-75. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.07.016

Optimum Selection of Conservation Reserves: Extensions to Multiple Land Use. Military Operations Research, Vol 16, No. 1. doi:10.5711/1082598316165.

Optimal selection of clustered conservation lands using integer programming: the case of Fort Stewart in Georgia, USA. Handbook on the Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity, 193. doi.org:10.4337/9781781951514.00018


Optimal Taxation of Inter-related Environmental Externalities
I am currently working on a Genereal Equiblirium model that analyzes the optimal taxation given interrelated environmental externalities. The paper studies the optimal allocation of land for conservation given the use values and non-use option and existance values in a world where the use of the environment creates congestion. This work is done in collboration with Hector A. Nunez and the research has been presented at the AAEA Annual Meeting and the SHAPE Summit. You can download the working paper in the working paper section here.


Using STELLA Simulation Models to Teach Natural Resource Economics

STELLA simulation models can be used when teaching undergraduate natural resource economics classes to allow students to gain an intuitive understanding of economics policies. This working paper presents my experiences in using STELLA models in a natural resource economics class. You can download the working paper in the working paper section here.

If you are interested in incoporating STELLA simulation models indo a natural resource economics class that you are teaching I am willing to share the models that I currently have.

Preferences for underutilized seafood and socially sustainable seafood
This work involves two projects both of which are collaborations with Loren McClenachan, a marine ecologist at Colby College, and a group of Colby Students. The first project was done with Taylor Witkin '14 and involved using a choice experiment survey to understand preferences for underutilized sea food. This project was Taylor's honors thesis and the resulting paper was published in Fisheries Research.

The second project is supported by a grant from the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement and uses a choice experiment to evaluate preferences for sustainable seafood labels that incorporated information about social sustainability (in addition to ecological sustainability). This work led by Jackie Chen '16 and both Economics and Environmental Studies students.

Resutls stemming from this work has been presented (by students) at the Colby Undergraduate Summer Research Retreat, the Colby Libearl Arts Symposium, the Maine Economics Conference, and NAREA Annual Meeting.


Energy Economics - Economics Impact of Fracking

This work investigates the local economic impact of shale gas development using the natural experiment of a discontinuity in regulation brought on by New York's 2008 moratorium on fracking. Using county and zip code level data from 2001-2013 to examine differences across New York and Pennsylvania counties before and after the moratorium, we find that shale gas development has a positive impact on employment and wages in the natural resource, mining, and construction sectors for the counties in which drilling occurs. However, we find an offsetting reduction in employment in the manufacturing sector. Overall we find no statistically significant effects from shale gas development on total employment and wages at the local level.

This work is part of the honors thesis conducted by Brendan Cosgrove '15 and was co-supervised by Dan Lafave, Michael Donihue. Brendan presented this work at multiple forums at Colby and also at the NAREA Annual Meeting in 2014. This work is published in Agricultural and Resource Economics Review (ARER).

 

Publications (Peer Reviewed)

B. Cosgrove, D. LaFave, S. T. M. Dissanayakec, M. Donihue. 2015. The Economic Impact of Shale Gas Development: A Natural Experiment along the NY and PA Border. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review. Forthcoming.

S.T. M. Dissanayakec, P. Jha, B. Adhikari, R. Bista, R. Bluffstone, H. Luintel, P. Martinsson, N. Paudel, E. Somanathan, and M. Toman. 2015. Community Managed Forest Groups and Preferences for REDD+ Contract Attributes: A choice experiment survey in Nepal. Journal of Forests and Livelihoods. Forthcoming.

T. Witkin, S. T. M. Dissanayake, L. McClenachan. 2015. Opportunities and barriers for fisheries diversification: Consumer choice in New England. Fisheries Research. 168, 56-62.

S. T. M. Dissanayake and A. W. Ando. 2014. Valuing Grassland Restoration: Proximity to Substitutes and Trade-offs among Conservation Attributes. Land Economics. 90(2), 237-259.

S. T. M. Dissanayake, H. Önal, J. D. Westervelt, and H. Balbach. 2012. Optimum Selection of Clustered Conservation Areas for Species Relocation. Ecological Modeling. Vol 224 Iss 1. 65-75.

S. T. M. Dissanayake, and H. Önal. Amenity Driven Price Effects and Conservation Reserve Site Selection: A Dynamic Linear Integer Programming Approach. 2011. Ecological Economics. Vol 70, No 12, 2225-2235.

S. T. M. Dissanayake, H. Önal, and J. D. Westervelt. 2011. Optimum Selection of Conservation Reserves: Extensions to Multiple Land Use. Military Operations Research, Vol 16, No. 1.

B. C. Daniels, S. T. M. Dissanayake, and B. R. Trees. 2003, Synchronization of coupled rotators: Josephson junction ladders and the locally-coupled Kuramoto model, Physical Review E, Vol  67.

Other Publications (Not Peer Reviewed)

S. T. M. Dissanayake. My Journey Through the US Undergraduate System – Part I and Part II. The Sunday Observer and SL2College. Spring 2011.

V. Kudaligama and S. T. M. Dissanayake. Sri Lanka’s Peace Dividends: The End of the War and Beyond. The Illinois International Review. Fall 2009.

Dissanayake, S. T.M., Önal, H., Westervelt, J. D., & Balbach, H. E. (2014). Optimal selection of clustered conservation lands using integer programming: the case of Fort Stewart in Georgia, USA. In Nunes, P. A., Kumar, P., & Dedeurwaerdere, T. (Eds.). (2014). Handbook on the Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity. Edward Elgar Publishing. 193.

Ethiopia REDD Surve Enumerator raining

 

research results pricing paper