Sustainable Forestry for Bioenergy and Bio-based Products

A training program produced by Southern Forest Research Partnership, Inc. September 2007

Biomass, including forest and agricultural residues and urban wastes, is the most important renewable energy source used in the world today. Of the world's total energy supply, 10.6 percent is attributed to biomass (International Energy Agency, 2006).

In the United States, renewable energy, as a whole, only comprises 9 percent of the total energy supply. Of the renewable energy, 47 percent is attributed to biomass, and wood-based biomass accounts for 72 percent of that total (Energy Information Administration, 2004). All in all, about 3 percent of our total energy produced is wood-based.

  • Biomass — organic matter renewable over time (at its simplest form)
  • Woody Biomass — accumulated mass, above and below ground, of the wood, bark and leaves of living and dead woody shrubs and trees
  • Bioenergy — Renewable energy produced from organic matter through the conversion of complex carbohydrates. This energy may be used directly as fuel, processed into liquids or gasses, or be a residual of the processing or conversion mechanisms

There are a host of benefits associated with the utilization of woody biomass for bioenergy and bio-products. These benefits are environmental, economic, and energy related. Overall, the utilization of woody biomass benefits the forest ecosystem, the global environment, forest landowners, and society.


  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Healthier forests
  • Reduced wildfire risk
  • Recovery of degraded lands
  • Rural development
  • Additional landowner income
  • Additional markets
Energy related
  • Reduced dependence on fossil fuels


  • Renewable energy source


  • Increased national security


The utilization of woody biomass for bioenergy and bioproducts is a promising arena. Yet challenges and barriers must be overcome.


  • Production and utilization costs
  • Market formation
  • Collaboration along the value chain
  • Transportation
  • Research and development of utilization technology
  • Production incentives
  • Unknown market externalities

While these are formidable challenges to overcome, the truth of the matter is that woody biomass is a viable alternative for fossil fuels in the southern United States. Addressing these challenges will accelerate the development of the industry and lead to successful future endeavors.


  • Co-firing with coal
  • "Fuels for Schools" program
  • Langdale Industries in Georgia
  • Sierra Pacific, Inc. in California

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BiomassTrainNotebook.pdf — PDF document, 25410Kb

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