Supporting the development of a sustainable forest biomass energy industry Position Statement of the Washington State Society of American Foresters Position: The Washington State Society of American Foresters supports the development of a sustainable forest biomass energy industry (direct combustion, pellets, gasification, liquid biofuels, and co-firing) to achieve the following ecological and economic benefits: Reduces loss of forest resources to pest and disease outbreaks, Reduces the risk of forest fires, Reduces site productivity loss from wildfires, Reduces the need for slash burning, Enhances and protects critical wildlife habitat, Prevents loss of forest site productivity by meeting and exceeding minimum state forest practices rules for retaining leave trees and down woody debris, Replaces foreign oil with local renewable fuel. Provides a renewable, carbon-neutral fuel source, Reduces domestic and industrial energy costs, Creates green and well paying jobs in rural communities, Helps to maintain a viable wood industry infrastructure, Helps to retain working forests threatened by alternative land use conversion, Provides forest landowners needed economic opportunities and alternatives for sustainable forest treatments, Encourage comprehensive studies (e.g.1) utilizing a life cycle assessment of the use of biomass energy. Issue: Several studies confirm that Washington has abundant, renewable, and underutilized forest biomass resources that hold great potential as a source of renewable energy1,2. Several other studies suggest that the risk of site productivity reduction is low.3,4,5 Washington’s Forest Practice rules provide both specific requirements that address site productivity and provide the Department of Natural Resources the authority to amend proposed practices that may impact long term site productivity. WSSAF encourages cooperative government and industry monitoring of biomass utilization to prevent environmental degradation of forest sites and community resources. As an emerging industry, the public needs to be aware that sustainable forest biomass utilization is good energy policy, good climate policy, and good forestry resource management. Background: As Washington’s forests face the challenges arising from a changing climate, the risk of forest fires and the prevalence of forest pests and diseases are increasing. These risks are magnified when coupled with unmanaged forests and the buildup of forest biomass due to past fire exclusion. Currently, many forest health treatments are often left undone because economics don’t support them. Encouraging sustainable use of forest biomass can provide a market for products that come from forest health treatments and conventional forestry operations. Supporting a Washington forest biomass-to-energy industry will create markets for non-marketable wood and thereby reduce fuel loads, contribute to Washington’s clean energy economy and create green jobs. This position statement was adopted by the Washington State SAF Executive Committee on July 1, 2010, and approved by the WSSAF Executive Committee for vote by the general membership. The statement will expire July 1, 2015, unless after thorough review it is renewed by the Executive Committee. 1 University of Washington, Report to the Washington Legislature, Wood to Energy in Washington: Imperatives, Opportunities, and Obstacles to Progress, June 2009. 2 Washington Department of Natural Resources, Forest Biomass Initiative. 3 Miller, Richard 2001. Assessing Management Effects on Pacific Northwest Forest Site Productivity: An Inventory and Evaluation of Research and Operational Sites. National Council For Air and Stream Improvement Technical Bulletin 839. 4 Vance, Eric 1998. Agricultural Site Productivity: Principles Derived from Long-term Experiments and Their Implications for Managed Forests. National Council For Air and Stream Improvement Technical Bulletin 766. 5 Compton, J.E. and D.W.Cole. 1991. Impact of harvest intensity on growth and nutrition of successive rotations of Douglas fir. Pp 151-161. In W. J. Dyck and C. A. Mees, eds. Long-term field trials to assess environmental impacts of harvesting. FRI Bulletin 161. IEA/BE T6A6 Workshop. Forest Research Institute, Rotorura, New Zealand, February 1990. This position statement was adopted by the Washington State SAF Executive Committee on August 1, 2010, and supported with 95 percent approval by member referendum in November 2010. This statement will expire August 1, 2015, unless after thorough review it is renewed by the Committee.