Proper stewardship of forest lands and communication between stakeholders have been challenges addressed by the U.S. federal government for over a hundred years. Adequate funding has always been an issue. A new dimension to the challenges is now emerging - how should we modify our stewardship of the forests to mitigate the effects of global warming?
Proper stewardship includes (but is not limited to): the removal of dead, dying, and diseased trees; thinning forests to reduce the threat of forest fires; the removal of underbrush and overgrowth; and the proper disposal of the removed woody biomass.
Bioconversion of woody biomass represents an opportunity in three ways. First, the removed waste can be reduced in volume without combustion (which would add to global warming carbon emissions). Second, the output of bioconversion (green chemicals, biofuels, electricity, wood products) can be used to replace output that would otherwise derive from the carbon-positive use of fossil fuels. Third, income from the sale of this otherwise wasted biomass can be used to help fund forest stewardship projects.
There is a wealth of information online about a collaboration begun in 2003 between the U.S. Departments of Energy, Interior, and Agriculture dedicated "to advancing a comprehensive, science-based approach to the harvesting and utilization of woody biomass from hazardous fuels reduction projects in and around at-risk communities, adjacent National Forest System (NFS) lands, Tribal lands, private lands, and other ownerships."
Information about this collaboration is available online at a specifically designated USDA website.
USDA Forest Service: Woody Biomass Utilization website
On June 18, 2003, The Departments of Energy, Interior, and Agriculture announced an initiative to encourage the use of woody biomass from forest and rangeland restoration and hazardous fuels treatment projects. The three Departments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Policy Principles for Woody Biomass Utilization for Restoration and Fuel Treatment on Forests, Woodlands, and Rangelands, supporting woody biomass utilization as a recommended option to use to reduce hazardous fuels rather than burning or employing other on-site disposal methods.
Woody Biomass Utilization Team (WBUT)
The Woody Biomass Utilization Team (WBUT) promotes and facilitates the planning and delivery of an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the recovery and utilization of woody biomass from ecological restoration and hazardous fuels reduction work as a result of the National Fire Plan’s 10-year Comprehensive Strategy* (PDF), the Healthy Forests Initiative, and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (PDF).
*NOTE: The Western Governor's Association released an update to this 2001 implementation plan on Dec. 7, 2006.
The Team is a cooperative, interdisciplinary team dedicated to advancing a comprehensive, science-based approach to the harvesting and utilization of woody biomass from hazardous fuels reduction projects in and around at-risk communities, adjacent National Forest System (NFS) lands, Tribal lands, private lands, and other ownerships. The Team will provide necessary strategic and tactical guidance to integrate this approach into the implementation of the Healthy Forests Initiative and Healthy Forest Restoration Act and will use the MOU to guide team efforts.
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