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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 256141, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/256141
Research Article

Opinions of Forest Managers, Loggers, and Forest Landowners in North Carolina regarding Biomass Harvesting Guidelines

Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8008, USA

Received 7 December 2011; Revised 8 March 2012; Accepted 14 March 2012

Academic Editor: Thomas V. Gallagher

Copyright © 2012 Diane Fielding et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Woody biomass has been identified as an important renewable energy source capable of offsetting fossil fuel use. The potential environmental impacts associated with using woody biomass for energy have spurred development of biomass harvesting guidelines (BHGs) in some states and proposals for BHGs in others. We examined stakeholder opinions about BHGs through 60 semistructured interviews with key participants in the North Carolina, USA, forest business sector—forest managers, loggers, and forest landowners. Respondents generally opposed requirements for new BHGs because guidelines added to best management practices (BMPs). Most respondents believed North Carolina’s current BMPs have been successful and sufficient in protecting forest health; biomass harvesting is only an additional component to harvesting with little or no modification to conventional harvesting operations; and scientific research does not support claims that biomass harvesting negatively impacts soil, water quality, timber productivity, or wildlife habitat. Some respondents recognized possible benefits from the implementation of BHGs, which included reduced site preparation costs and increases in proactive forest management, soil quality, and wildlife habitat. Some scientific literature suggests that biomass harvests may have adverse site impacts that require amelioration. The results suggest BHGs will need to be better justified for practitioners based on the scientific literature or linked to demand from new profitable uses or subsidies to offset stakeholder perceptions that they create unnecessary costs.