Forest Measurements and Spatial Technology Stories

Powering up Renewable Energy in the Southeast

Powering up Renewable Energy in the Southeast

Biomass powers 43 percent of the nation’s renewable energy and FWRC researchers are finding ways to optimize biomass production for landowners in the Southeast. A team led by Dr. Heidi Renninger, associate professor in the Department of Forestry, is studying how to produce better, hardier hybrid poplars harvested for biomass energy. The researchers use precision agricultural tools to measure economic and ecological benefits of growing trees to convent to renewable biofuel and have built a model that quantifies both productivity and ecosystem services these tracts of trees can provide. This research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Collaborators include University of Tennessee and Louisiana Tech University.

Greenwood Resources provided access to the company’s hybrid poplar cuttings.

2020

How Much Carbon Does U.S. Forests Capture?

How Much Carbon Does U.S. Forests Capture?

Dr. Krishna Poudel, assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and FWRC scientist, is conducting research to find an efficient and accurate forest biomass measurement method. Poudel and his collaborators collected destructive samples from several species in eastern and western United States to experiment with creating better models for estimating biomass. This research will help federal resource managers, private and industrial landowners, and the public by determining fuel loads and measuring the forest’s vulnerability to fire.

2019

Helping Pyrophytes Fight Back

Helping Pyrophytes Fight Back

Prescribed fire is a method used to help provide positive ecosystem services, but research suggests that this may inhibit oak regeneration. FWRC scientists are researching the effects of fire suppression on dwindling upland oak and pine populations. Without fire as a part of their ecosystems, fire-resistant oak seedlings and saplings are unable to survive against their competition. If these oak trees are unable to grow to full maturity and drop flammable leaves to offer kindling for the next fire, the positive feedback cycle in this ecosystem is broken. With less productive fires, fewer of the oaks and pines will survive into adulthood, meaning that the already meso-leaning forest composition may, one day, become completely unable to burn, putting the oak and pine trees at risk.

The research aims to provide forest managers with a guide as to how to most effectively burn in forests, in order to restore the desired forest composition.

2019