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The potential rural development impacts of utilizing non-merchantable forest biomass

Crandall, Mindy S., Adams, Darius M., Montgomery, Claire A., Smith, David
Forest policy and economics 2017 v.74 pp. 20-29
biomass, economic incentives, forest products, forest products industry, forest stands, forests, issues and policy, markets, models, prices, risk, rural communities, rural development, subsidies, timber management, wildfires, Oregon
The development of a market for currently non-merchantable forest material, such as harvest residues or small diameter trees, has been suggested as a possible win-win solution that could: (i) provide a material that can be processed in rural communities reeling from changes in the forest products industry and policy environment; (ii) capture more value from timber management activities; and (iii) provide a financial incentive for treatments to reduce wildfire risk or restore forest stands. Modeling the supply of this material with spatially-explicit potential demand locations allows for a realistic analysis of the feasibility of such a market to stimulate rural development. We model multiple scenarios for the utilization of harvest residues within the current forest products market in western Oregon. Sensitivity analysis explored the effects of cost of the depots on feasibility, including policy designed to support depot establishment through subsidies. Scenarios were also used to assess the effects of increases in federal harvest activities. Results suggest that with relatively high biomass prices, there is some potential for investment in depots to aid rural communities in western Oregon, but there is little change in either the overall feasibility or the location of depot establishment under scenarios of increased federal harvest.