Scott P. Jones, Executive Vice President of the Forest Landowners Association (FLA), testified today before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources regarding the need for a broad definition of "wood" from private forestland as it should be included in any national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). Jones said the definition is critical to help maintain family forestlands as forestlands.
In making that point, he asked the question: Will Family Forests Owners Sell Wood or Will They Sell Real Estate?
"FLA members look forward to participating in the new markets created by developing opportunities to meet national renewable energy requirements and we wish to do this while maintaining good forest health," said Jones.
Jones testified that, "Today, you will likely hear that adding a new electricity market to existing wood markets will create pressures on our sustainable forest resource. It's simply not true. We don't have enough markets for the wood that we are growing..." America's forestland covers one-third of all U.S. land and almost 60 percent is owned by private forest landowners. These private forest landowners manage and care for their property while providing clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, healthy soil, aesthetics, recreation, and wood-based commodities.
Blake Sullivan, FLA Government Affairs Committee Chairman, said, "It was not until the pulping process was invented in the early 20th century, providing adequate markets for timber, that American forests became sustainable. Prior to these markets, American forestlands were in danger. Wood markets create sustainable American forestland."
An RES is a standard that is meant to increase renewable electricity production by mandating a certain amount of the nation's electricity be created by renewable sources such as solar, wind, or biomass. Congress is now debating the need for such a standard, which sources should be included, and how might they be included. FLA believes strongly that for any national RES to be effective, it must include all wood biomass available from private lands. This inclusion will not only help an RES succeed, but will also help conserve America's private forestland by creating new markets as incentives to manage and hold forestland in the United States; a country with some of the most strenuous forest health laws and regulations in the world.
Jones also delivered a message that, "Congress must allow American private forest landowners access to emerging energy markets in parity with other sources, as they consider all energy initiatives."