U.S. Forest Service scientists contributed to a far-reaching report that will help land managers make decisions about how forests are best managed to help offset carbon emissions, including the use of forest biomass for energy.
The report, “Managing Forests Because Carbon Matters: Integrating Energy, Products, and Land Management Policy,” is published in the Society of American Foresters’ Journal of Forestry. The report was compiled by the organization’s Task Force on Forest Climate Change Offsets and Use of Forest Biomass for Energy, which also coordinated more than 25 external reviews of the report.
“Congratulations to the Society of American Foresters for bringing together such a diverse team of scientists to evaluate this critical environmental and energy issue.” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “This report analyzes the most recent science on wood to energy initiatives as well as how trees can help solve the nation’s carbon emission problems.”
According to the task force report, U.S. environmental and energy policies should be based on four science-informed premises:
- Sustainably managed forests can provide carbon storage while delivering a range of environmental and social benefits, such as timber and biomass resources, clean water, wildlife habitat, and recreation.
- Energy produced from forest biomass returns carbon to the atmosphere.
- Forest products used in place of energy-intensive materials, such as metals, concrete, and plastic can reduce and store carbon emissions and can in some cases, substitute fossil fuels to produce energy.
- Forest biomass-based energy “recycles” carbon stored in trees compared to fossil fuels that release carbon.
“It demonstrates why the United States must invest in its forest resources and how land management decisions can have important positive impacts on carbon in the atmosphere while producing renewable energy and other benefits, including energy independence,” said Michael Goergen, executive vice president of the Society of American Foresters.