Understanding Forest Residue Recovery and Sustainability

Wood residues can provide a source of biomass for biofuel. We want to know how much residue material may be available without causing negative impacts on the environment.

Research question

Forest wood residues are the portions of trees that remain in the forest after logging operations or after management activities such as tree thinning have taken place. Residue removals from forests are a potentially substantial source of biomass feedstock for use as biofuels.  However it is important to understand more about the sustainability of residue removals and how they will affect forest recovery and nutrient availability. The scope of this project will address:

  1. What forest residues are functionally available to be used as feedstock
  2. How forest management can increase sustainable residue harvest
  3. How harvest operations and increased residue removal might affect the recovery of forests.



Approximately 100 forest stands within Michigan were sampled using a standardized field guideline, in order to estimate the total biomass, and carbon and nutrient contents of harvested materials for each stand (including residues removed or left on site). Each stand will be evaluated for past forest residue removal through site assessment and communication with land managers, owners, and consulting foresters.  Leaf litter and soil core samples were collected to contribute to quantification of total carbon and nitrogen pools within forest stands.


Progress and Results

Field sampling was completed for forest stands distributed across the Michigan’s Upper and Northern Lower Peninsulas. A total of 101 stands, divided roughly equally across state, industrial and non-industrial owner classes, were sampled. An analysis of aboveground biomass data and processing of soil and leaf litter samples followed.

Final Project Report:

Understanding Recovery and Sustainability of Forest Residue Harvest