Economics of integrated harvests with biomass for energy in non-industrial forests in the northeastern US forest


Buchholz, Thomas, William Keeton, and John S. Gunn. “Economics of integrated harvests with biomass for energy in non-industrial forests in the northeastern US forest.” Forest Policy and Economics 109, no. December (2019).


Economic drivers explaining the harvest of biomass for energy use in northeastern forests in the United States arenot well understood. However, knowledge of these drivers is essential for bioenergy policy development, bio-mass supply estimates, and assessments of harvesting impacts on forest ecosystems and carbon stocks. Usingempirical data from 35 integrated harvest sites in northeastern US non-industrial forests, we analyzed theeconomics of mixed wood product logging operations that included biomass for energetic use from both land-owner and logging contractor perspectives. Results were highly variable but indicate that biomass harvest re-moval intensities were not explained by primary forest management objectives, harvest area, or harvested woodproduct quantity. Rather than harvest area or choice of machinery, we identified biomass harvest intensity as amain driver of profits for a harvest operation, as measured in hourly and total net income to the logging con-tractor. While biomass stumpage payments to the landowner were marginal, tree bole biomass constituted morethan half (54%) of the extracted volume by weight, far outweighing biomass derived from tops and limbs only.Biomass harvests, therefore, might encourage logging contractors to intensify harvest removals rather than in-crease harvest area or choose a specific harvest type or method. Such intensification could have beneficial ordetrimental impacts on a stand and needs to be addressed through further studies of potential consequences forbiodiversity and various ecosystem services.

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Last updated on 10/17/2019