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Perspectives of Woody Biomass for Energy: Survey of State Foresters, State Energy Biomass Contacts, and National Council of Forestry Association Executives

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State foresters, state energy biomass contacts, and members of the National Council of Forestry Association Executives were surveyed to gather perceptions on items that should be included in a definition of woody biomass. Participants also rated different renewable energies and the particular opportunities and challenges that the utilization of woody biomass faces to become a sustainable energy feedstock. Ninety-seven responses from 43 different states and the District of Columbia suggest that a definition of biomass should not differentiate between naturally regenerated forest stands and plantations or private and public forestlands. There is a lower level of approval for the inclusion of biomass from old-growth or late successional forests and tree needles/leaves in a woody biomass definition. Participants rated the use of combustion as the woody biomass energy platform with the highest potential to become a sustainable source of energy at the state level. There are regional differences in the stated potential of various renewable energy technologies. Some of the greatest opportunities for the use of woody biomass include the generation of locally produced energy and additional work opportunities for harvesters and loggers. Costs of harvesting and transporting biomass material from the field to an energy facility are the greatest challenges facing the development of woody biomass energy initiatives. Any policy effort aimed at promoting wider woody biomass use should consider regional and local resources and social and economic conditions and foster competition among renewable energy platforms.
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Keywords: National Council of Forestry Association Executives; energy biomass contacts; national foresters association; opportunities and challenges; woody biomass definition

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.675 (Rank 20/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 39.6 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

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