See more from this Session: Bioenergy and Soil Sustainability: Forest, Range and Wildlands: II
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Hall C, Street Level
Biomass harvesting for energy production and forest health can impact the soil resource by altering inherent chemical, physical and biological properties. These impacts raise concern about damaging sensitive forest soils, even with the prospect of maintaining vigorous forest growth through biomass harvesting operations. Current forest biomass harvest research concur that harvest impacts to the soil resource are site specific and cannot be generalized. Based upon the most current forest harvesting research, we compiled information on harvest activities that decrease, maintain or increase soil-site productivity. We then developed a soil chemical and physical property risk rating system within a geographical information system for a timber producing region within the Northern Rocky Mountain ecoregion. Digital soil and geology databases were used to construct geospatially explicit best management practices to maintain or enhance soil-site productivity. The proposed risk rating system could aid in identifying resilient soils for forest land managers considering biomass operations, policy makers considering expansion of biomass harvesting and investors considering where to locate bioenergy conversion facilities.