Assessing the Availability of Woody-Biomass in Michigan

This will allow interested parties to search for the amount of woody-biomass available for conversion to bioenergy within the specific geographic regions of Michigan.

Research Question

The total forest area in Michigan has increased by approximately 1.5 million acres from 1980 to 2009 and the inventory data indicates greater wood accumulation than removal in recent years.  However, not all wood grown in Michigan forests is available for harvest in the immediate time-frame. The actual volume available is constrained by multiple factors such as landowners' willingness to harvest, accessibility of the resource, existence of a forest management plan that guides harvesting plans and operations, and market conditions which support sales at a normal and expected level for forest products. This project intends to identify such constraints and integrate them with a GIS database to estimate the volume that would very likely be available for harvest. This will also provide stakeholders with a realistic notion as to where investments could be made in the future to improve biomass availability within the state.


The Research Approach

The process to estimate current availability begins with the creation of a database of timber product and biomass growth, and removals from different forest ownership groups (private forests, state and local government owned forests, and national forests) by region. Next, filters will be applied to reduce this amount by past harvest trends, proposed future allowable harvests, and other identified constraints particular to each ownership group. The final data will then be compiled into an online interactive map, developed by Michigan Technological University, which will allow concerned parties to search for biomass that will potentially be available for conversion to bioenergy in different regions of Michigan.


Progress & Results

A database of forest biomass growth, removals, and past harvest trends by ownership group has been compiled from USDA forest inventory and analysis reports available online. Additionally, allowable annual harvest volumes from the national forests were obtained from the respective national forest management plans. Correspondence with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment is ongoing for obtaining the proposed harvest data from state owned forests and a mail survey of nonindustrial private forest owners is being conducted to identify future harvest plans from these forests. A preliminary report entitled “Michigan Woody Biomass Supply Snapshot” has been completed recently and the final database and interactive tool to estimate biomass availability should be accessible in 2011.

Michigan Woody Biomass Supply Snapshot