Saturday, February 4, 2012

Anti-Biomass Propaganda Twists the Truth and Hides the Facts

Invasive species attacking a stand of trees

Anti-Biomass Propaganda Twists the Truth and Hides the Facts
By Genevieve Fraser

I recently read an article on Biomass that asks the question: EarthTalk: I understand that some companies are now looking to cut down forests and burn them as "biomass" for generating electricity. Is nothing sacred?

With a host of environmental regulations in place, it is beyond imagination that any company, particularly in the Northeast, would cut down a forest for biomass.  Biomass is the lowest grade material and commands the lowest prices.  Wood product companies cull trees for a variety of reasons, and the process itself is quite costly. Along with costs associated with equipment and men, fuel costs are quite high.  

Some trees are harvested because they are high quality and are milled for lumber.  Residues can be used for biomass or other uses.  
Trees are also taken because of insect infestations and disease or as part of a clearing designed to rid the area of invasive non-native plants that entwine and suck the life out of native species.  However, ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms and other weather related events also damage trees, and render them unusable except as biomass.  

Lately, the USDA Forest Service and other agencies have been turning to biomass harvesting as a means of trimming dense, mature forest cover that are more prone to forest fire.  The purpose is to preserve the forest, not destroy it, and allow for healthy regeneration less prone to disease and fire.  Young forests also serve as a food source for a variety of species and are the mating ground for songbirds and butterflies.

I cringe when the motto, "Don't incinerate our forests" is applied to biomass.  The implication is utterly false.

Photo Credit: Genevieve Fraser

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