Fire Science Digest- Making Biomass Pay: Obstacles and Opportunities

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Removing hazardous fuels to reduce the risk of wildfire has become a priority for land managers across the United States. Utilizing biomass taken from forests to cover the cost of fuel reduction is an attractive ideal. Effective utilization could also address important national challenges such as improving forest health, increasing domestic energy supplies, reducing carbon emissions, and revitalizing rural economies. However, getting woody biomass from the forest to the consumer is economically and logistically difficult, and efforts to make biomass utilization profitable have been disappointing so far. JFSP-funded researchers have found that, while there is no recipe for building a successful economy around forest biomass, certain elements are essential: commitment and budget support from land-management agency leaders, processing and transportation infrastructure, developed or potential markets, and the ability of community members to work together. The researchers’ findings give land managers and community leaders a basis for assessing whether biomass utilization can be successful in their communities.

Image Source: Joint Fire Science Program