Tuesday, May 17, 2016
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced over $8.5 million to expand and accelerate technologies and strategies that promote the use of wood in commercial construction, heat and power generation, and other wood product innovations that also benefit forest health.
Federal funds will leverage more than $18 million in investments from 42 business, university, nonprofit and Tribal partners in 19 states, for a total investment of $27 million.
“We are looking for opportunities to reduce forest restoration costs and create more jobs through strong forest products markets,” said Chief Tidwell. “This funding supports improving forest health on the National Forest System lands and other forested lands and promotes the economic and environmental wellbeing of rural communities.” He added further.
Healthy markets for forest products help the nation’s forests mitigate some of the impacts of climate change. Research has demonstrated that wood products from responsibly managed forests outperform other building materials in measures of greenhouse gas intensity, air and water pollution and other environmental impacts. Responsibly-sourced forest products also provide income for private landowners that keep their land forested and supports needed investments in forest management to provide clean water, wildlife habitat, and other resources millions of Americans depend upon.
The awarded funds will stimulate the use of hazardous fuels from National Forest System lands and other forested lands to promote forest health while simultaneously generating rural jobs. This year, 77 proposals were received for the Forest Service’s Wood Innovations grant program, highlighting the expanding interest and use of wood as a renewable energy source and as an innovative building material.
This announcement supports USDA’s Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry-a comprehensive effort to provide America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners with the tools and resources they need to combat climate change.
Through this work, USDA expects to reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration in soils and forests by over 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year by 2025-the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road or offsetting the emissions produced by powering nearly 11 million homes each year.
Over the course of this Administration, USDA has invested nearly $1 billion through grants, loans, and loan guarantees to support over 230 wood energy projects across the country to reduce reliance on costly fossil fuels, support rural economic growth and advance forest restoration.