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Report focuses on biomass and forestry product potential

Nov. 10, 2011, Portland, OR - A recent report provides new ideas regarding carbon and energy benefits forests and forest products provide. The report summarizes and analyzes the most recent science regarding forests and carbon accounting, biomass use, and forest carbon offsets.


November 10, 2011
By David Manly

Nov. 10, 2011, Portland, OR – A recent report provides new ideas regarding carbon
and energy benefits forests and forest products provide. The report summarizes and analyzes the most recent
science regarding forests and carbon accounting, biomass use, and forest
carbon offsets.

A team of researchers from the U.S. Forest Service, several
universities, and natural resource and environmental organizations
coauthored the report, entitled Managing Forests Because Carbon Matters: Integrating Energy, Products,
and Land Management Policy, which appears as a supplement to the
October/November 2011 issue of the Society of American Forester's Journal of Forestry.

"This work should help policymakers reconsider the critical
impact forests have on our daily lives and the potential they have to
solve problems that confront our Nation," says Bob Malmsheimer, lead
author of the report and a professor at State University of New York
(Syracuse) College of Environmental Science and Forestry. "We believe
our science-based findings should lead toward positive reforms that
encourage investment in this vital renewable resource."

The report suggests that U.S. environment and energy policies should be based on the following science findings:

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  • Sustainably managed forests can provide carbon storage and
    substitution advantages while delivering a wide range of environmental
    and social benefits including timber and biomass resources, jobs,
    economic opportunities, clean water, wildlife habitat, and recreation.
  • Energy produced from forest biomass returns to the atmosphere
    carbon that plants absorbed in the relatively recent past; it
    essentially results in no net release of carbon as long as overall
    forest inventories are stable or increasing (as with U.S. forests).
  • Forest products used in place of energy-intensive materials
    such as metals, concrete, and plastics reduce carbon emissions (because
    forest products require less fossil fuel-based energy to produce and
    they also store carbon for a length of time based on their use and
    disposal), and they provide biomass residuals (i.e., waste wood) that
    can be substituted for fossil fuels to produce energy.
  • Fossil fuel-produced energy releases carbon into the
    atmosphere that has resided in the Earth for millions of years; forest
    biomass-based energy uses far less of the carbon stored in the Earth,
    thereby reducing the flow of fossil fuel-based carbon emissions to the
    atmosphere.

"Perhaps this report will inspire fresh efforts to find management
strategies that folks can agree on," says coauthor and Forest Service
scientist Jeremy Fried. "The forest inventory and analysis data
collected by the Forest Service on all forested lands in the U.S.
provided the data necessary to explore how forests can be managed to
provide climate benefits. Full life-cycle analyses of U.S. forests show
that the best opportunity for these forests to provide even more climate
benefits requires a combination of factors. Those factors are:
sustainably managed forests, a healthy market for long-lived forest
products, and renewable energy generated from forest and mill residues."

The report emerged from the Society of American Foresters Task Force
on Forest Climate Change Offsets and Use of Forest Biomass for Energy.
Authors include Robert Malmsheimer, State University of New York
(Syracuse) College of Environmental Science and Forestry; James Bowyer,
Professor Emeritus of University of Minnesota; Jeremy Fried, U.S. Forest
Service; Edmund Gee, U.S. Forest Service; Robert Izlar, University of
Georgia; Reid Miner, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement;
Ian Munn, Mississippi State University; Elaine Oneil, University of
Washington; and William Stewart, University of California-Berkeley.

Read the paper online at www.safnet.org/documents/JOFSupplement.pdf.


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