Regeneration is a new word people use when moving from just “sustained models” to a positive impact in our environment.This post shows how active fire management tools used by an enhanced bioeconomy and new advanced technologies in bioenergy can pay the bill we need to preserve and increase our forest masses.  Today we see wildfires in Australia, California, Meditearrean European countries, Africa and the Amazon. Massive amounts of CO2 are going to the air, flowing together with ashes, greenhouse gases and pollutants harming our communities. Can we use those materials burning wildly, while replacing coal, gas , fertilizers and non-renewable fossil based sources of other energy and inputs at the time we regenerate the land and biodiversity in bush and degraded forests? What are threats and opportunities?

Climate change threat

There are multiple reasons why wildfires are getting more severe and destructive, but climate change tops the list, notwithstanding claims to the contrary . According to the latest U.S. National Climate Assessment, released on Nov. 23, higher temperatures and earlier snowmelt are extending the fire season in western states. By 2050, according to the report, the area that burns yearly in the West could be two to six times larger than today. Image result for climate change wildfires


Prevention model? Thinning, pruning and waste collection to boost our bioeconomy

In areas with an over-accumulation of fuels, a combination of thinning small trees and clearing brush followed by controlled burning can be the most effective method to reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire. Reducing the intensity and extent of forest fires by improving forest health will also lower costs for containment and keep firefighters and communities out of harm’s way.

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What is the opportunity?

Before, timber and boards where only business model. But what timber company would examine and rake fuel sources in a larg territory just to prevent wildfires? Well now renewable energy companies can do that. Sourcing biomass to bio-based industries with a relatively low cost for feedstock procurement can be linked to a forest regeneration strategy in the long term.  A wildfire prevention model that will provide rural jobs and a source of income for a biobased industry. With the goals of reducing forest fires, creating jobs, and improving the environment, biomass power stands to lead the way in the renewable energy sector.

When bushes and wood-fuel and debris become wild-fires so frequently as in 2019, you understand they could have been converted and treated as renewable energy sources replacing coal or gas, reasonably collected branches and other debris can become into power, pellets, heating homes or storing carbon below ground.

They could have  converted into biomaterials, provided rural jobs, landscape management models with new nurseries and plantations and soil regeneration with biodiversity. And if you follow it, they may obtain profits for local communities in charge of the management of natural resources. Yes, corruption is a problem. Yes . But at the end, there are models making more money, regenerating our landscape and degraded forests and bush we see burning every year.

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What is a wrong prejudice about this?

Forest fires are often fueled by excess small trees and brush that choke forests and create fire ladders that direct fires into the crowns of the largest trees. These varying tree densities and the dead, dry brush left behind act as kindling to allow crown fires to move across the landscape in a highly destructive manner.

The biomass power industry is uniquely positioned to improve forest health and reduce the threat of forest fires, while at the same time provide clean, renewable electricity to Americans in every region of the country. Without proper forest maintenance-including managed thinning and prescribed burns-forest waste is left to build up over time and stoke the flames of future fires. The biomass power industry is prepared to work directly with most forest services and other industry partners, as well as environmental groups, to ensure that forest material is carefully removed and converted to produce green electrical power.

Some environmental groups fear that the biomass industry will clear-cut forests for fuel. This fear can be put to rest. It is not the practice of the biomass power industry to clear-cut forests and it is simply not economically viable to chop down whole trees to generate electricity. Biomass power uses only waste material such as scrap lumber, forest debris, or agricultural harvest waste to generate clean electricity, material that would otherwise be dumped in landfills, openly burned, or left as fodder for forest fires. Currently, the biomass power industry removes more than 68.8 million tons of forest waste annually.

The biomass power industry effectively encourages regular forest management by creating a market for the excess small trees, slash and brush that are choking many of our forests. Removing this incentive to clear brush by discouraging biomass power would result in overgrown, unmanaged forests that pose an increased risk for forest fires.

Furthermore, generating electricity from biomass actually reduces greenhouse gases. As dead brush decomposes it releases harmful methane gas and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. During the electricity-generating process, biomass power eliminates methane gas and reduces the carbon dioxide that would have been emitted otherwise. Accounting for displaced fossil fuels, the biomass power industry removes more than 30 million tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere annually.



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Regeneration through biomass models

* Land regeneration through biomass management and re-vegetation / reforestation.

* fuel collection / fallen branches / debris

* Continued supervision with rural teams

* Income sources: pellets, woody chips, biochar, biomaterials

* Lower CO2 emitted as wildfires and fossil sources of energy and inputs (replaced by biomass) have a much lower footprint

* Use of pyrolisis to produce biochar (active carbon sequestration or “carbon negative” solution).

What model do we prefer?

What model do we prefer?

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Don’t let your forest revenues burn wild

This model is not based on deforestation. No. It is not a use of the forest products to make money. We are talking about a regenerative biomass collection model making revenues to pay the bill of wildfire-prevention. It is based on rural squads being implicated in forestry monitoring, wildfire prevention systems, and biomass sourcing strategies.

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We suggest sustainable collection of waste materials and small amounts of debris and branches. Our model is supported by FAO and several forestry association worldwide.

Then what we do with the fuel?  we empower local agri-industries, replace coal, replace gas and fertilizers, plastics and many other materials. You may produce charcoal powder and blend it with cement to reduce construction footprint and sequester CO2. There are several options and many need low-tech and low capital expenses.  A new high value added product being coupled to a regenerative model with our landscape, local raw materials providing our own inputs and energy. An enhanced microbiology. Animal feed, biochar, organic food, pulp & paper, fibers, composites, bioplastics. Several options are viable. Our solutions are focused on training, investigation, awareness and structural prevention.

Making biochar to boost horticulture and organic food?

Biochar is charcoal produced from plant matter and stored in the soil as a means of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is made by heating biomass to a temperature of 400 – 800°C under the absence of oxygen. The process used is called pyrolysis. The resultant material is characterized by high specific surfaces of more than 300 m2 per gram, distributed over countless nano-, micro-and mesopores. The ability of these pores to store water makes biochar a very efficient medium for storing moisture. The pores also trap large quantities of practically immobile air; with the result that biochar constitutes one of the best currently known insulation materials.

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Biochar is a great manner to valorize waste materials and produce several products including bio-fertilizers, bio-filters, stormwater control products, bio-asphalt, bio-coal (for energy applications), bio materials including plasters, green cement and materials for construction, and it is an outstanding way for carbon sequestration.

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Biochar can be produced from fuel collected when preventing wildfires and be used to replace cement, a major CO2 emitter and contributing sector to climate change.

Supporting literature

Harvesting forest biomass reduces wildfire fuel

Retro-innovation working for wildfire prevention: Shepherds’ contracts to reduce biomass and maintain fuelbreaks

Accounting for Biomass Carbon Stock Change Due to Wildfire in Temperate Forest Landscapes in Australia

FAO guidelines for biomass collection in the Mediterranean forests

Climate change is increasing the risk of wildfires

USDA: A strategic assessment of forest biomass and fuel reduction treatments in western states

EU Commission: Sustainable and optimal use of biomass for energy in the EU beyond 2020 – Annexes of the Final Report