A new USDA study just launched on the East Coast that will examine how to best reuse logging industry “residue” for renewable energy and other purposes. Leftover materials from the industry include treetops, twigs stumps and slash, which were once commonly left behind as waste.
The 3-year study connects the forestry departments at Virginia Tech, Auburn University, West Virginia University and the University of Maine to determine new environmental and economic best practices for reclaiming the materials, which are in demand by the renewable energy industry.
The mid-Atlantic portion of the study is led by Virginia Tech Forestry Professor Chad Bolding, who has previously authored similar studies. He says it’s of crucial importance to make sure these efforts support, rather than hindering, the commercial production of timber.
“Residues are the lowest value product in the forest, so we can’t let the ‘tail wag the dog’. We have to minimize the impact on the round wood production, while also gaining the residues at minimal cost and efficiency.”
Bolding says residue materials could be used to bolster the value of working forests overall, and ultimately aid in the fight against catastrophic climate change.
“The more demand we have for forest products, the more likely forests are to stay forests.”
Photo of Chad Bolding via Virginia Tech