Environmental Benefits and Concerns of Woody Biomass Utilization

Wood Energy March 17, 2010 Print Friendly and PDF

Harvesting woody biomass presents both opportunities and challenges. There are some environmental benefits associated with the utilization of woody biomass for energy and other bio-based products. In addition to being a sustainable renewable energy source, the use of woody biomass for energy can help mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, create healthier forests, and reduce the risk of wildfires. However, there are some environmental challenges pose by biomass harvesting and utilization for energy. Harvesting operations include movement of loaded trucks and tractors that may create soil erosion and increased siltation in the nearest lakes and streams through surface runoff. Uncontrolled biomass harvesting and utilization may also pose problems on soil productivity, biodiversity, and invasive species infestation.

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There are many factors that help determine the use woody biomass for energy production.  Below we consider the decision-making points involved in the process.  

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.