Dr. Richard Yao completed a PhD in Environmental Economics and an MSc in Agricultural Economics. He has worked at Scion for eleven years as a research economist on the assessment of ecosystem services (e.g. timber, food, carbon, recreation, improved water quality, water regulation and biodiversity) and natural resource management. Richard has applied his key areas of expertise – econometrics, forestry economics and environmental economics – to New Zealand environmental and land use management. This research area includes accounting for both market (provisioning) and non-market values (regulating, cultural) values in policy and investment decision making. Richard has published in international journals and participated in key discussions on how to account for ecosystem services values in policy. In 2012, he led the development of the annual Forest Ecosystem Services Forum that brings together government agencies, businesses, academics, researchers and user groups to discuss issues and developments in ecosystem services research and links to local, national and international policies. Recently, he served as co-chair of the Oceania Ecosystem Services Forum in Christchurch, New Zealand in September 2019. He also served in the executive committee of the New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society from 2014 to 2018.
Richard delivered invited keynote and oral presentations in international conferences in Brazil, Canada, China, France and New Zealand. He currently serves as the New Zealand country observer to the five-year COST Action programme on Payments for Ecosystem Services (Forests for Water) led by Forest Research UK. He also has an executive committee role in two working parties of the International Union of Forest Research Organisation (IUFRO).