Forest-based biomass supply in Massachusetts: How much is there and how much is available
Marla Markowski-Lindsay, Paul Catanzaro, David Damery, David B. Kitteredge, Brett J. Butler, Thomas Stevens, Journal of Environmental Management 106 (2012) 1-7,
Forest owners in Massachusetts (U.S.) live in a densely populated state and near forestland that is under pressure of development and characterized by small parcel size. Forest-based biomass harvesting in Massachusetts is a renewable energy topic generating a great deal of discussion among all constituents. To provide perspective on these discussions, our analysis asks how much forested land in Massachusetts could be available for biomass supply. This analysis considers the level of bioenergy production that could be maintained on an annual basis given the amount of woody biomass that is likely to be supplied from private- and state-owned Massachusetts forests, which comprises nearly 90% of the state’s forests. Applying the most recent information on forest ownership and owner attitudes in Massachusetts, we estimate that between 80,000 and 369,000 dry tons/year of available wood-based biomass from forest management practices on private- and state-owned forests, or between 1.4 trillion and 6.2 trillion BTUs/ year. These estimates represent between 0.09% and 0.42% of all Massachusetts residential, commercial and industrial annual consumption. These estimates are well below Kelty et al.’s (2008) estimate of 891,000 dry tons/year; the largest factors in this reduction are the reduced contribution of biomass due to social constraints and the amount of state land considered to be open to active management. Conversations regarding the use of biomass and its impacts on forests, as well as the development of biomass-related policy, should consider the supply of biomass that is likely available. While overall forest inventory estimates suggest one degree of availability, our research suggests that this needs to be tempered with the reality of ownership size and owner attitudes.
Last updated: May 4, 2012 by David Damery