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Search: Biomass

Study Finds Increasing Wood Pellet Demand Boosts Forest Growth, Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Creates Jobs

A truck is filled with wood chips.

A truck is filled with wood chips as part of the process of turning wood into energy.

An industry that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase forest growth, and create jobs sounds too good to be true.  But that is the reality of the emerging wood pellets market in the Southern U.S.  That conclusion is supported by independent economic assessments of wood bioenergy, including a recent study that specifically focused on European pellet demand conducted by researchers at Duke and North Carolina State Universities.  Those researchers found that increasing demand for wood pellets resulted in more forest area, more forest investment, large greenhouse gas reductions, and little change in forest carbon inventories.

So, why is there concern?

Some critics have recently argued that land used to produce biomass for energy should instead be permanently protected as forests. They say that harvesting biomass from forests reduces forest carbon stocks. Instead, they claim that the best way to increase carbon storage is to reduce demand for renewable products that come from the land. Read more »

Transferring Dead Trees from Source of Wildfire Fuel to Biofuel

Mountain lake with pine beetle damaged forest

Researchers are harvesting beetle-killed trees in the Rocky Mountain region for use as feedstock for biofuel. (iStock image)

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Trees killed by bark beetles have, for years, been a source of fuel for forest fires.  Now, those very trees are being turned into biofuel and biobased products.

This vast bioenergy resource—approximately 46 million acres—requires no cultivation, circumvents food-versus-fuel concerns, and may have a highly favorable carbon balance compared other forestry feedstocks. The problem, however, is that beetle-killed biomass is typically located far from urban industrial centers in relatively inaccessible areas, which means transportation costs are a key barrier to widespread utilization of this vast resource. Read more »

Southwestern Crown Collaborative Focuses on Monitoring and Learning to Accomplish Restoration Goals

Pavilion in the Lubrecht Experimental Forest

A pavilion on the Lubrecht Experimental Forest in Montana. (Photo Credit: Linda Nitz, Lubrecht Experimental Forest)

This post was written by Emily Olsen, Conservation Connect Associate at the National Forest Foundation (NFF). As the U.S. Forest Service’s non-profit partner, the NFF brings people together to restore and enhance our National Forests and Grasslands.

Situated among ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and other endemic tree species, Montana’s Lubrecht Experimental Forest lends itself to learning and adaptation. In March, the Experimental Forest was a seemingly perfect place to discuss restoration goals during the annual Southwestern Crown Collaborative Adaptive Management Workshop.

Here at the National Forest Foundation, we’re feeling refreshed after the workshop. Participants from the Forest Service, local communities, conservation, and academia came together to discuss what the Southwestern Crown Collaborative has learned from wildlife, aquatic, socioeconomic, and forest vegetation monitoring over the past year. But the discussions didn’t stop there. Participants also deliberated opportunities for monitoring information to inform and influence public lands management across the local landscape. Read more »

Delivering Benefits to the Public through Mitigating Wildfire Risk

Panorama of the Geronimo Interagency Hotshot Crew along forest road

Panorama of the Geronimo Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) keeps watch on their burnout along a forest road. This will help stop the main fire when it comes to this location in the Big Windy Complex, approximately 15 miles west of Interstate 5 and northeast of Galice, OR, on Friday, Aug 9, 2013 in Oregon. The Geronimo Hotshots are from the San Carlos Apache Tribal Natural Resources Program, in San Carlos AZ. Hotshots are highly trained wildlands firefighters that normally work in remote locations under arduous conditions. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

During the month of May, we are putting a focus on delivering benefits to the public. While the U.S. Forest Service provides value to the American people in a variety of ways, I wanted to focus on how we mitigate wildfire risk as fire season is already upon us.

Some of you might not know this, but my very first job in the Forest Service was in fire. It was a way to get my boot in the door as a seasonal employee and allowed me be a part of something great. Early in my career, everyone participated in fire – certainly if you were on a fire crew – but when a large fire occurred, everyone pitched in when needed. Read more »

Smart Federal Partnerships Build Our Biofuels Future

Here at USDA, we believe collaboration is the key to helping us address our nation’s most pressing needs, like energy. Building on partnerships in both the public and private sphere, we are leveraging resources to achieve and impact far greater than USDA could ever achieve alone. During this year’s Agricultural Outlook Forum, one breakout session concerned the importance of the bioeconomy in the areas of national security, growth potential, job creation, reduced dependence on oil, and environmental benefits. The session also stressed the need for partnerships to contribute to a growing the bioeconomy as it moved to center stage during the 21st century.  One of the speakers at the session was Jonathan Male, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), U.S. Department of Energy.

Cross-posted from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy blog: Read more »

In the Wake of the Rim Fire, What Comes Next? A Story of Recovery, Restoration and Reforestation

Current restoration goals include thinning and using fire as a management tool to reduce fuel loads. (Photo by Clint Gould, U.S. Forest Service)

Current restoration goals include thinning and using fire as a management tool to reduce fuel loads. (Photo by Clint Gould, U.S. Forest Service)

Like a phoenix rising from ashes, blackened portions of the Stanislaus National Forest, which were left by the Rim Fire that blazed through the Sierras in August of 2013, have begun to spring to life. Left with a burn scar that is one-third larger than New York City, a reforestation team is diligently working to bring forth a new forest.

Since the fire, much has been done in the way of making the forest safe for public travel and recreation along main travel routes. Snags and fire-damaged trees present significant safety hazards to humans. They also create a tremendous fuel load on the ground (biomass) as they fall. This fuel can feed future fires, which can be severely damaging to the soil. Read more »