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Understanding Landowner Preferences for Woody Biomass Harvesting: A Choice Experiment-Based Approach

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Abstract:

Understanding nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) landowners' preference for harvesting woody biomass is an important issue for feedstock sustainability of wood-based bioenergy industries. Given their diverse ownership objectives, an assessment of attributes influencing biomass harvesting activity is likely to help design landowners' preferred timber harvesting plans. Conducting a choice experiment, we analyzed landowners' preferences for hypothetical timber harvesting plans and willingness to accept for the attributes that guide their harvesting behavior. The nested logit model used in the analysis included alternative-specific (wood biomass utilization, environmental impacts, site preparation cost savings, and price per acre) and person-specific attributes (age, education, and income). Landowners were interested in optimizing revenue from woody biomass utilization while minimizing damage to the surrounding environment and creating a need for less site preparation. Although landowners' propensity to harvest woody biomass declined with age, more formally educated landowners and those having higher annual household income were interested in supplying woody biomass for wood-based bioenergy industries. The findings indicated that most landowners were in favor of supplying woody biomass for wood-based bioenergy. The results of this study reveal a need for raising awareness and providing training to increase landowners' awareness about issues related to timber harvesting, woody biomass utilization, and ecological sustainability.

Keywords: choice experiment; nested logit; nonindustrial private forest landowners; woody biomass utilization

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5849/forsci.11-075

Publication date: October 6, 2013

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