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Three Realities of Wood Bioenergy and Forest Owners

Recent articles and media coverage of wood bioenergy projects and policies raised questions about carbon accounting, the role of subsidies and biomass definitions.  However, policy-makers and forest owners can benefit from a rooted understanding of what we know versus technologies and markets shrouded in uncertainty.  We recently published a white paper commissioned by the National Alliance of Forest Owners that specifies three areas of direct relevance to timberland owners and legislators that forest analysts understand well and can address with authority and data:

  • Half of announced wood-consuming bioenergy projects will fail.  Basic analysis of publicly-available data indicates that a large number of announced projects will never come on line.  Why is this important?  Because assessments of emerging wood bioenergy markets that assume all projects succeed are misleading and do not account for best available information.
  • Forest owners are long-term managers, not day traders.  Recent analysis confirms decades of forest economic research into forest owner behavior in light of evolving bioenergy markets and concludes “…landowner responses clearly increase supply and decrease raw materials costs in the long-run…”
  • Wood suppliers and loggers adapt to new markets incrementally.  Loggers – those tasked with working with forest owners to harvest residues to wood bioenergy facilities – apply systems that integrate smoothly and inexpensively with their existing forest operations.  New wood markets do not create a frenzy of forest harvesting.  Parallel concerns arose when pulp mills expanded in size and scope during the twentieth century.  Throughout this period, forest owners and wood suppliers adapted through improved forest management, incremental growth of logging operations and utilization of previously underutilized wood raw materials.

Click here for the complete 6-page white paper.

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