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Woody biomass availability for bioenergy production using forest depletion spatial data in northwestern Ontario

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Woody biomass contributes about 6% of total energy production in Canada. One obstacle to the adoption of woody biomass for energy production is accurate data on sustainable supply. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the assessment of woody biomass annually available for bioenergy production. The study area, located in northwestern Ontario, includes 18 forest management units (167 184 km2) and three existing and one proposed biomass-based power generating stations, with a potential annual demand of 2.2 million green tonnes (gt). First, pre- and post-harvest inventories were carried out to assess the availability of harvest residues. Second, two spatial database layers (land-use class and forest depletion) were developed. The pre- and post-harvest inventory data were combined with spatial data analysis to estimate woody biomass in each square kilometre of the study area. It was estimated that annually there was more than 2.1 million gt of forest harvest residue and 7.6 million gt of underutilized woody biomass technically available between 2002 and 2009 for bioenergy production, with an average annual forest depletion rate of 60 867 ha, 0.6% of the total productive forest area. The study provides a tool for assessing the sustainable availability of woody biomass feedstock for power generation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 15, 2012

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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