The Sierra Institute works at the local, regional, and national level to advance utilization of woody renewables in impoverished communities facing high threat from catastrophic wildfire. Click the icons below for more information on our current woody renewables work.
For information regarding the Plumas County Health and Human Services Center Biomass project, check out our new page.
Why Woody Biomass Utilization?
There is a tremendous need to address declining forest health, increased risk of wildfire, and poor socioeconomic conditions in California’s forests and communities, including our local Plumas County.
Dense, overstocked forest stands put critical watersheds, forest resources, and rural communities at high risk of catastrophic wildfire and widespread tree mortality. Impacts of high severity fires and tree mortality threaten the physical, social, and economic health of communities in and adjacent to forest lands that are already struggling with poor socioeconomic conditions following the decline of the timber industry. These unhealthy forests represent unnatural ecosystems in need of restoration, while local rural communities are in need of jobs and economic revitalization.
Unfortunately, restoring fire-suppressed, high fire-risk forests and watersheds to a condition in which they are more resilient to fire and a changing climate is expensive and labor intensive. Small-diameter trees growing in the forest understory have little commercial value, and typically do not generate revenue needed to cover the costs of harvesting. Thus, markets for value-added products made of low-value wood and processing infrastructure for the material must be developed to address declining health of forests and watersheds.
Roundwood dowels and split firewood are examples of products that utilize small diameter trees.
Benefits of Biomass Utilization:
Utilizing waste wood material to produce value-added products can:
-Reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire
-Improve forest and watershed health, increase carbon sequestration
-Improve air quality and reduce black carbon emissions
-Decrease reliance on fossil fuels, stabilize heating costs (for biomass fired heat and/or power systems)
-Revitalize the wood products industry
-Stimulate the rural economies
-Allow for utilization of an abundant, local resource