Woody biomass can help nation meet its energy needs

25x’25 released a Wood-to-Energy Policy Roadmap concluding that the focused use of woody biomass to help meet America’s energy needs could increase the nation’s forest land base and improve the environmental services that land provides. 

The findings are among the principal conclusions developed by a diverse panel of leading forestry, conservation, scientific and energy experts following two years of stakeholder discussion facilitated by 25x’25. The Roadmap offers a series of recommendations for policy makers and stakeholders to enhance the role of our nation’s forestlands in meeting U.S. energy needs while sustaining “forests as forests.”
The Roadmap shows the means by which woody biomass can be an important feed-stock for renewable energy, including:

• Promoting  the sustainable use of biomass with appropriate feedback mechanisms

• Rewarding efficient uses for woody biomass in energy production;

• Using market incentives to help private and public forestlands reach their productive potential for wood and other public benefits;

• Investment in needed research and technology development.

The Roadmap offers a strategy to increase the role of forestlands in the development of bioenergy in a way that will also boost rural community economic development, lower the carbon footprint of America’s energy supply; restore the health and vitality of many of the nation’s public lands; insure the future of America’s private timberland, and provide the raw materials needed by America’s forest products industry, all while supplying a growing bio-economy.

“Our forests and the woody biomass they produce can be sustainable for energy and traditional forest products, as well as myriad other public uses and benefits,” said Bill Carlson, chairman of the Wood-to-Energy Work Group brought together by 25x’25. “The use of wood for energy, far from decimating our nation’s public and private forestlands, should be considered an opportunity to enhance and expand both the extent and productive capacity of those forestlands.” 

The Roadmap is the result of a collaborative effort to advance the national discussion. It sets a course to achieve the proper use of our forest resources for bioenergy while protecting and enhancing our private and public forests, and providing a continuous supply of raw material for our domestic forest products industry.

A key recommendation from the Roadmap is a call to eliminate the conflict that exists among a variety of definitions for “biomass” found in recent policy and legislative measures. Calling for a simple scientific biomass definition, the Roadmap states, “We should, as a nation, assure ourselves that our resource use is sustainable, that we are fully accounting scientifically for the carbon footprint of wood energy, and thus allow for a simplified definition of what wood qualifies to be counted in various programs.”

Going forward, the 25x’25 partners will share the National Wood-to-Energy Roadmap with policy makers and stakeholders to encourage the use of wood in concert with other biomass feedstocks for energy and traditional uses, to help ensure America’s forests, soils, water, and wildlife resources are sufficient and sustainable for the future.

A copy of the Roadmap, which is funded in part by the Energy Foundation and the Better World Fund, is available by clicking HERE. An executive summary is available HERE.

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