Forest Management Policy Needs To Change To Deal With Energy Concerns

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If North America is to keep up with the increasing demand for renewable energy, significant changes will have to be made to the country’s forest management policy. This was asserted by a bioenergy law authority from the University of Illinois.

If North America is to keep up with the increasing demand for renewable energy, significant changes will have to be made to the country’s forest management policy. This was asserted by a bioenergy law authority from the University of Illinois.

In an article published in the Vermont Law Review, Jody Endres–who is a professor of bioenergy, environmental and natural resources law at the University–warned that unless changes were made to U.S. forest management policy, the contribution of the forests to the country’s energy assets would be severely limited. Endres is particularly concerned that existing forest management policies do little to control overharvesting, and further make it impossible for the country to achieve its goals as they relate to bioenergy production.

Endres partly attributes the problem to the federal system of government, which does not provide for a single set of policies with regard to the use of land and biofuels. Also affiliated with the Energy Biosciences Institute, Endres said that under the current laws, the responsibility for managing private land was placed solely on the states.

But, the professor said, this system is not sufficient to deal with issues that had a wider reaching and broader effect, such as climate change, biodiversity, and issues associated with the quality of water.  For Endres, ecosystem issues are not constrained to a single state’s borders, and the issue is made even more complicated by the entanglement of state government and federal government policies.

Professor Endres also called attention to the implications that the current absence of clear-cut policy will have on the bioenergy. In the absence of clearly defined state and federal policies in the country with regard to the definition of sustainability as it pertains to bioenergy, there is a growing need that is currently not being addressed.

Endres said that there is presently no single policy that governs how a particular parcel of land is assessed for biodiversity, or for how the quality of water is assessed. For the professor, the variances in policy–and sometimes the utter lack of it–further complicate the issue for regulators from outside the U.S., particularly from the European sector. Professor Endres warns that this can be a source of considerable “misperceptions”.

The professor did have a ray of hope to impart. Drawing attention to the dismal state of the forest reserves in Europe, Endres said that the issue of changing forest management policy is an “interesting” one to have in the United States, which unlike Europe, has still managed to retain some of its natural and semi-natural forests resources. If the professor’s suggestion for a more unified and coherent forest management policy will be implemented, the United States may have even more of these forests to look forward to in the future.

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