Forest fuel reduction and biomass supply: perspectives from southern private landowners

Abstract

Removing excess biomass from fire-hazardous forests can serve dual purposes: enhancing the health and sustainability of forest ecosystems and supplying feedstock for energy production. The physical availability of this biomass is fairly well-known, yet availability does not necessarily translate into actual supply. We assess the perception and behavior of private forestland owners in the southern United States with respect to thinning overstocked forests for bioenergy production. Landowner perception is then integrated with the USDA Forest Service’s Fuel Treatment Evaluator to estimate the biomass supply from fuel treatments on non-industrial private timberlands in the region. Due to competing uses for lumber and pulp/paper products, only about one-third of this biomass could be used as bioenergy feedstock. Between 6 and 66% of landowners would consider thinning overstocked forests for bioenergy purposes depending upon whether financial incentives and technical assistance are provided. Accounting for competing uses, landowner willingness, accessibility, and recovery loss, annual feedstock supply from Southern private treatable timberlands is estimated between 0.9- and 11-million dry tonnes (dt). The average production cost is proximately $48/dt. Government cost shares, biomass market development, and technical assistance could significantly stimulate private landowners to procure biomass from fire-hazardous forests while mitigating wildfire risk.

  • Citation: Gan, Jianbang; Jarrett, Adam; Johnson Gaither, Cassandra 2013. Forest fuel reduction and biomass supply: perspectives from southern private landowners. Journal of Sustainable Forestry. 32(1-2), 28-40. 15 p.
  • Keywords: forest biomass, wildfire, private landowner, southern United States
  • Posted Date: September 25, 2014
  • Modified Date: May 20, 2015
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.