What Can We Do With the Excess Wood?

Woody biomass utilization—ways to use the excess woody material from the forest—is a major issue today for a number of reasons. Economic reasons: A market for biomass can help pay for forest treatments or provide income for landowners. Environmental reasons: Overly dense forests may create suboptimal habitat for many species and has the potential to go up in a catastrophic fire. Energy reasons: Biomass is a form of stored energy that can be considered carbon neutral (with caveats). This has implications for climate change, as well as for our dependence on foreign oil.

However, there are still many aspects of biomass utilization to be resolved. Although there may be excess biomass in the forest, utilization facilities are often too far away to be economically feasible. Many of the promises of biomass energy are still in the research stages; sophisticated wood to fuel technology is not yet viable. And in many cases the public is wary about constructing new facilities, and about the impacts of biomass removal on the forest ecosystem.

Finding ways to use the excess biomass in our forests has many benefits: it could help mitigate climate change, improve the health of our forests, decrease fire risk, provide income to forest landowners, create jobs, and obviate some of the need for fossil and foreign fuels.

This is an exciting topic for forest landowners and managers. Follow the discussion and new developments through the resources to the right.