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Forests 2011, 2(3), 797-813; doi:10.3390/f2030797

Assessing Bioenergy Harvest Risks: Geospatially Explicit Tools for Maintaining Soil Productivity in Western US Forests

Jr. 1,* , 2
1 Intermountain Forest Tree Nutrition Cooperative, Department of Forest Ecology and Biogeosciences, University of Idaho, P.O. Box 441133, Moscow, ID 83844-1133, USA 2 US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 1221 South Main Street, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 July 2011 / Revised: 9 September 2011 / Accepted: 14 September 2011 / Published: 20 September 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Biofuels From Forests: Woody Biomass)
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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 harvesting research concurs that harvest impacts to the soil resource are region- and site-specific, although generalized knowledge from decades of research can be incorporated into management activities. 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 assessment within a geographic 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 assessments could aid in identifying resilient soils for forest land managers considering biomass operations, policy makers contemplating expansion of biomass harvesting and investors deliberating where to locate bioenergy conversion facilities.
Keywords: forest soil productivity; soil disturbance; GIS; best management practices forest soil productivity; soil disturbance; GIS; best management practices
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Kimsey, M., Jr.; Page-Dumroese, D.; Coleman, M. Assessing Bioenergy Harvest Risks: Geospatially Explicit Tools for Maintaining Soil Productivity in Western US Forests. Forests 2011, 2, 797-813.

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