FIA BioSum 2.0: A Research Highlight
About this page
This page summarizes the project "Evaluating opportunities for biomass processing facility siting and economic feasibility of landscape-scale fuel treatment", ongoing at the PNW Research Station's Forest Inventory and Analysis and Focused Science Delivery Programs. It also includes links to in-press and submitted publications on analyses conducted to date. In Summer 2007, it will also contain links to the FIA BioSum 2.0 software currently in the Beta Test and Documentation Preparation phases at the PNW Research Station.
Principal Investigators: Jeremy Fried, Jamie Barbour, Roger Fight
Thanks to our funders! -- National Fire Plan; PNW Research Station; Forest Inventory and Analysis Program; Focused Science Delivery Program; Western Forest Leadership Coalition.
Landscape-scale deployment of mechanical thinning of western forests to reduce fuels accumulations, as called for by the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, has been slow to materialize, in large part due to the limited availability of funds to subsidize such activities, the high costs of these labor-intensive treatments, and the low to non-existent commercial value of the majority of the trees removed in such operations. Construction of facilities that would convert biomass to energy is seen as a prospect for generating new markets for small-diameter wood, and potentially contributing to expansion of the scope of fuel treatment possibilities. Answering the question of where to construct such facilities, and the appropriate scale at which to do so, depends, among other things, on the location and quantity of the resources upon which they will draw and the costs of transporting harvested material across the landscape. Biomass plant investors and operators, fuels managers, state & private foresters, and community planners are keenly interested in answers to such questions.
The FIA BioSum analysis framework was developed to combine forest inventory data representing an analysis region, a treatment cost model, a fuel treatment effectiveness model, and a raw material hauling cost model to explore alternative landscape-scale treatment scenarios that achieve a variety of management objectives (Fried, J.S., G. Christensen, D. Weyermann, R.J. Barbour, R. Fight, B. Hiserote, and G. Pinjuv. 2005. Modeling opportunities and feasibility of siting wood-fired electrical generating facilities to facilitate landscape-scale fuel treatment with FIA BioSum In: Bevers, Michael; Barrett, Tara M., comps. Systems Analysis in Forest Resources: Proceedings of the 2003 Symposium; October 7-9, Stevenson, WA. PNW-GTR-656. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, pp. 195-204; Fried 2003). Raw material volumes generated by mechanical fire hazard reduction treatments are estimated by applying silvicultural treatments to data derived from forest inventory plots, estimates of treatment costs are generated via the Fuel Reduction Cost Simulator (Fight et al. 2006), gross product values are calculated as the product of modeled harvest quantities and local product prices, and a variety of treatments, developed in consultations with local silviculturists and fire management experts, are simulated to assess treatment effectiveness and net and gross treatment costs (Fried, J.S., J. Barbour and R. Fight. 2003. FIA BioSum: Applying a multi-scale evaluation tool in Southwest Oregon. Journal of Forestry 101(2):8; Fried and Christensen 2004). Candidate sites for building processing facilities can be simulated and evaluated with respect to economic feasibility (Fried et al. 2005), or the framework can be extended via mixed-integer optimization to jointly select treatments for each acre and site suitable expansion of processing capacity (Daugherty, P.J. and J.S. Fried. 2007. Jointly optimizing selection of fuel treatments and siting of biomass facilities for landscape-scale fire hazard reduction. Information Systems and Operational Research. [In press]).
Products and tools
FIA BioSum has been applied to a 25 million acre region of Oregon and California and to the entirety of Arizona and New Mexico in support of research studies and articles (e.g., Barbour et al. in review; Bilek et al. 2005), presentations to Washington Office, regional and forest staff, other scientists, forest and fire managers, and the biomass-to-energy community. Custom analyses have supported biomass plant capacity decisions (in Lakeview Oregon) and forest practices policy development (in California). The FIA BioSum simulation software, which provides users with a user-friendly, automated, integrated analysis environment and all the needed model components to conduct BioSum analyses for any area in the U.S. for which FIA plot and road network data are available, is in beta release and documentation, an on-line help subsystem, sample datasets, and a user tutorial are nearing completion.
Results and Applications: Under a range of policy scenarios with different objectives in the Oregon and California regional analysis, removal of considerable amounts of commercial size trees is needed to accomplish fire hazard reduction goals when objectives are centered on either maximizing net revenue or maximizing treatment effectiveness. Even if the objective is to minimize merchantable volume about two thirds of the removed weight would be in sawlogs. Tops and limbs from merchantable commercial conifers and whole trees of hardwoods and non-commercial conifers are major sources of sub-merchantable wood for which there is essentially no market but bioenergy. Assuming a ten year implementation and depreciation of the biomass plants constructed to support fuel treatment, and treatment of all acres for which treatments would achieve fuel reduction benefits, the study region is capable of annually producing $590 million in net revenue, yielding 6 to 12 million green tons of biomass and 840 million to 1.2 billion cubic feet of merchantable wood, and over the course of a decade, achieving effective treatment of 2.8 to 8.1 million acres while providing bioenergy capacity of 496 to 1009 MW. Analysis with a range of forest bioenergy-facility capacities revealed robustness in the optimal spatial distribution of bioenergy facilities. This robustness depends on the extent of the transportation network relative to the sources of woody biomass and on the ability to change plot-treatment combinations to define different biomass collection areas. Custom analyses have been conducted in support of biomass plant capacity decisions (in Lakeview Oregon), forest practices policy development (by the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire in California), and regional analysis of opportunities to attract bioenergy investment capital (in New Mexico).
Awards and Recognition
DIRECTOR’S AWARD FOR FIA EXCELLENCE for FY 2002. USDA Forest Service. For outstanding research in the development and implementation of the BioSum model to assess the economic and fire risk impacts of treating stands across broad landscapes.
INFORMS 2004 Best Paper in Forestry Sponsored Sessions Award, Inst. for Management Science and Operations Research, Section on Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment. Presentation by J.S. Fried and P.J. Daugherty, “Joint Optimization of Fuel Treatment Selection and Processing Facility Siting for Landscape-Scale Fire Hazard Reduction,” judged best of 25 papers presented at the 2004 INFORMS meeting Forestry Sessions.
Principal Investigators: Jeremy Fried, Jamie Barbour, Roger Fight
Funding: National Fire Plan; PNW Research Station; Forest Inventory and Analysis Program; Western Forest Leadership Coalition.
Barbour, R.J., J.S. Fried, R. Fight, and D. Weyermann. 2007. Predicting the potential mix of wood products available from timbershed scale fire hazard reduction treatments. Forest Policy and Economics [In review].
Bilek, E.M., K.E. Skog, J.S. Fried, and G. Christensen. 2005. Fuel to burn: Economics of converting forest thinnings to energy using BioMax in Southern Oregon. Gen. Tech. Rep. FPL-GTR-157.
Daugherty, P.J. and J.S. Fried. 2007. Jointly optimizing selection of fuel treatments and siting of biomass facilities for landscape-scale fire hazard reduction. Information Systems and Operational Research. [In press].
Fight, R.D., Hartsough, B.R., Noordijk, P., 2006. Users Guide for FRCS: Fuel Reduction Cost Simulator Software. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-668. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR.
Fried, J.S. 2003. Evaluating landscape-scale fuel treatment policies with FIA data. Western Forester 48(1):6-7.
Fried, J.S., R.J. Barbour, R. Fight, G. Christensen, and G. Pinjuv. 2003. Small Diameter Timber Alchemy: Can Utilization Pay The Way Towards Fire Resistant Forests? In: Narog, M. G., technical coordinator. Proceedings of the 2002 fire conference on managing fire and fuels in the remaining wildlands and open spaces of the Southwestern United States; 2002 December 2-5; San Diego, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-189. Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. [in press].
Fried, J.S., J. Barbour and R. Fight. 2003. FIA BioSum: Applying a multi-scale evaluation tool in Southwest Oregon. Journal of Forestry 101(2):8.
Fried, J.S. and G. Christensen. 2004. FIA BioSum: A tool to evaluate financial costs, opportunities, and effectiveness of fuel treatments. Western Forester 49(5):12-13.
Fried, J.S., G. Christensen, D. Weyermann, R.J. Barbour, R. Fight, B. Hiserote, and G. Pinjuv. 2005. Modeling opportunities and feasibility of siting wood-fired electrical generating facilities to facilitate landscape-scale fuel treatment with FIA BioSum In: Bevers, Michael; Barrett, Tara M., comps. Systems Analysis in Forest Resources: Proceedings of the 2003 Symposium; October 7-9, Stevenson, WA. PNW-GTR-656. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, pp. 195-204.