US Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization

Woody Biomass Utilization

What is Woody Biomass Utilization?

Two overlain pictures: foreground picture is a display of various biomass products; background picture is a pile of small harvested and decked trees lying in by a road.

  • Woody biomass: The trees and woody plants, including limbs, tops, needles, leaves, and other woody parts, grown in a forest, woodland, or rangeland environment, that are the by-products of forest management.
  • Woody biomass utilization: The harvest, sale, offer, trade, or utilization of woody biomass to produce bioenergy and the full range of biobased products including lumber, composites, paper and pulp, furniture, housing components, round wood, ethanol and other liquids, chemicals, and energy feedstocks.

These definitions are derived from the Memorandum of Understanding on Policy Principles for Woody Biomass Utilization for Restoration and Fuel Treatments in Forests, Woodlands, and Rangelands (PDF, 184 KB).


The National Energy Policy Act, signed into law on August 8, 2005, recognized the importance of a diverse portfolio of domestic energy. The Policy outlined thirteen recommendations designed to increase America’s use of renewable and alternative energy. One of these recommendations directed the Secretaries of the Interior and Energy to re-evaluate access limitations to federal lands in order to increase renewable energy production, such as biomass, wind, geothermal, and solar.

The Departments of Agriculture and Interior are also implementing the National Fire Plan, the President’s Healthy Forests Initiative, the Healthy Forest Restoration Act and the Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004 to address the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improve forest and rangeland health on federal lands by thinning biomass density.

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.

Related Links

  • USDA Biobased Products and Bioenergy Coordination Council - provides a forum through which USDA agencies will coordinate, facilitate and promote research, development, transfer of technology, commercialization, and marketing of biobased products and Bioenergy using renewable domestic agricultural and forestry materials.


US Forest Service
Woody Biomass Utilization Team
Sidney R.Yates Federal Building
3rd Floor Southwest
201 14th Street, S.W. at Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

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Last modified: Monday, 14-Aug-2017 15:15:04 CDT