A landscape design approach for assessing trade-offs and sustainability of woody biomass production from forests in the southeastern United States
Results/Conclusions: Our preliminary findings suggest that (a) controversies and potential market barriers are linked to biodiversity, carbon balance accounting, certification schemes acceptable to European nations, and terminology (e.g., waste, residue, thinning, whole tree, natural forest, wetlands); (b) several factors limit the ability of conventional life-cycle assessment (LCA) to provide the answers needed by decision makers; (c) an alternative approach applying landscape design principles may offer several advantages; (d) however, there are costs and barriers to applying a landscape design approach; and (e) the selection of sustainability indicators, definitions, and choice of a “reference system” are critical factors influencing assessment results. Our study considers forestry-based best management practices, forest certification and sustainability certification and how these programs might be adapted to address evolving social and regulatory demands. A landscape design approach offers an option to promote continual improvement and a platform capable of addressing concerns about social, environmental and economic sustainability of woody biomass for energy. We will discuss recent trends and how future scenarios could be influenced by the results of this and similar sustainability assessment work.