Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Great Forestry Needs Low-Grade Timber Markets for Biomass

I wanted to share the below editorial with my readers. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I was just reiterating this fact while teaching at the New Forest Stewards Training this week. Strong markets for low grade, whether paper, energy, firewood, or something else, allow us to practice proper forest management. 

I have been blessed over my forestry career to experience both, strong low grade markets and virtually no low grade markets. Where there are no markets our ability to practice proper forest management is severely compromised. It has also been shown that strong markets for forest products help keep forests as forests. In other words, landowners are less likely to sell land and conversions to others uses, like development, are less likely to happen. How do we develop a strong biomass market in our state?

This story was originally published in The Commons, Voices and Letters from Readers.

As a consulting forester helping landowners manage thousands of acres of forest land across Massachusetts, I support more utilization of forest biomass because without low-grade timber markets, we cannot practice great forestry.

This movie Burned is nothing more than anti-forestry propaganda. We do not clear-cut forests for biomass. Only junk wood is chipped. Biomass is, in essence, stored solar energy and is a byproduct of our forestry operations, all of which allows us to grow more high-quality saw timber, which is the main product.

Increased markets for forest biomass have produced more forest-improvement cuttings that help landowners:
• manage their woodlots to a high standard by greatly improving timber quality and species composition;
• improve wildlife habitat;
• generate income;
• increase property values as well as timber values;
• encourage landowners to keep their land in forest.

Biomass markets and improvement cuttings also provide many real green jobs right up the wood-supply chain and help to provide many forest products for consumers and a source of clean, locally produced, renewable energy.

The use of wood for energy is carbon neutral as long as the forests are growing faster than they are being cut. Here in Massachusetts, that is the case. There are numerous studies that show the great carbon benefits of biomass utilization.

We need more markets for forest biomass, especially in those areas that have no access to any significant low-grade timber markets. We need to stop all renewable energy credits for forest-and-field-destroying, made-in-China toxic solar “farms” and mountain-ecosystem-destroying and bird-shredding wind “farms.”

Those credits should be redirected to locally produced and sustainable biomass so we can create more local jobs and improve more of our forest land.

By Mike Leonard

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