Regional land use conversion involving forestry and agriculture land in the context of using biomass for bioenergy

Biomass is expected to be an important source of renewable energy as part of comprehensive climate change policy. Currently, biomass represents about half of U.S. renewable energy consumption (mostly associated with on-site energy production from timber mills) and the primary biomass feedstocks are waste residues (e.g., timber milling residues). Increased reliance on feedstocks produced specifically for bioenergy may yield changes in traditional production from the forest and agriculture sectors, the rate of land conversion between the two sectors, and resource management practices. As demand for bioenergy increases, biomass production from short-rotation woody crops (SRWC), logging residues, and non-merchantable trees will likely increase. Currently, SRWCs are estimated to comprise less than 0.1% of the agriculture and forest landscape. Timber harvests residues are currently believed to amount to about 64 million dry tons of woody biomass. Using existing research results, we identify considerations and some potential implications of increased use of woody biomass feedstocks. To examine possible future conditions, we use the Forest and Agriculture Sector Optimization Model—greenhouse gases (FASOM-GHG)—an economic dynamic optimization model of the U.S. forest and agriculture sectors—to project future biomass feedstock consumption under both reference and climate policy scenarios and possible effects on forest age classes, forest types, and other forest resource conditions. We report regional-level projections of feedstock consumption for future decades from the forest and agriculture sectors. Additionally, we examine projected impacts to land conversion (e.g., afforestation or deforestation involving agriculture) and management intensity as result of increased demand for bioenergy

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