Potential Impact of Bioenergy Demand on the Sustainability of the Southern Forest Resource
The use of woody biomass for the production of domestic bioenergy to meet policy-driven demands could lead to significant changes in the forest resource. These impacts may be limited if woody biomass from forests is defined as only the residues from logging. Yet, if only residue is used, the contribution of woody biomass to a renewable energy portfolio will also be limited. As the definition of woody biomass is expanded, the impacts on the forest resource increase, as does the contribution of woody biomass to the renewable portfolio. A combination of markets and policies will determine the extent to which woody biomass can be used to meet renewable electricity requirements. This article develops two hypothetical demand scenarios based on the use of woody biomass in renewable electricity generation and uses these scenarios in a model of timber supply in the U.S. South to evaluate the effects on both timber markets and forest resource sustainability. The demands for woody biomass are met by a combination of residues from logging on private forests and increased harvest of pine pulpwood. We identify the dynamics of key characteristics of the southern forest resource, including forest type and age class distributions that vary under these demand scenarios.