OUTCOME: Fire Resilient Forests


State and federal agencies are committed to conducting hazardous fuel reduction on one million acres of California’s forested land per year by 2025, generating hundreds of millions of tons of forest biomass residuals. The North Coast region has inadequate capacity to process the existing flow of woody biomass, much less the increased flow that is expected.


Forest Biomass Residuals - Develop and implement a regional plan for forest biomass residuals from hazardous fuel reduction that supports ecological and economic resilience through community-scale and community-supported actions.

Background and Context

Forest biomass residual utilization is a critical part of the solution set needed for reducing hazardous fuels and risk of severe and damaging wildfires, achieving long-term forest resilience, avoiding and reducing GHG emissions, and ensuring viable local economic and workforce development. Forest biomass residual utilization at the appropriate community scale is dependent on functioning markets for wood products, both to make the best use of existing and potential woody biomass and to help defray the costs of hazardous fuel management projects. Improved information about the location and quantity of potential forest biomass residuals and the demand for wood products will support both wood product business development to support healthy economies and hazardous fuel management to support healthy and resilient forests.

A regional forest biomass residual utilization plan is needed in order to effectively utilize this biomass for economic and ecosystem benefits in the region. An effective plan will identify and link locations of hazardous fuel loading, communities at risk, and existing and needed woody biomass processing capacity in the region. It will create opportunities for expanding and creating new businesses to put forest biomass residuals to higher uses that are consistent with community and state values. These values include reduction of GHG emissions, protection and enhancement of ecosystems and water supplies, and enhanced climate and extreme event resilience, including more fire-resilient forests. A regional plan must address current and emerging challenges, including but not limited to fragmented and limited information about forest biomass volume, availability, and characteristics; industrial sites suitable for biomass utilization business development; the infrastructure that needs to be retained, expanded or developed to support existing businesses and develop new businesses; insufficient business capacity to process existing and anticipated flows of forest biomass; and public opinion related to the environmental and public safety tradeoffs of different biomass removal and utilization solutions. All potential biomass utilization solutions should be assessed through the lens of potential positive and negative impacts to forest health, ecosystem vitality, and local community and economic resilience, acknowledging the reality that not all biomass can – or should – be removed from the forest.


In 2022, NCRP secured funding from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to compile a regional plan for woody feedstock that creates an understanding of forest biomass residuals stocks and flows within the context of a variety of regional goals including community health and safety, hazardous fuel reduction, economic development, ecosystem restoration, water quality, and more. This regional woody feedstock plan has multiple components that combine to support an integrated, multi-benefit North Coast strategy for forest biomass residuals utilization and sustainable feedstock supply. Planning will leverage and collaborate with a variety of partners, including UC ANR and USFS initiatives and private sector operators, along with local and regional partners working toward common goals.

Data from the woody feedstock planning initiative will inform the development of a regional forest biomass residual plan that will identify solutions and build regional capacity for putting forest biomass residuals to use in a manner that can help defray the cost of hazardous fuel management activities and support the local economy, while building more resilient forests and safer communities. A successful plan will require simultaneous, coordinated implementation of solutions addressing all components of the issue, from establishing a reliable supply chain, to supporting wood products businesses, to addressing the use of biomass residuals for bioenergy, to developing policy, regulation, and funding to support identified actions. NCRP and its partners will serve as a hub of coordination to implement these and new solutions identified through the assessment and planning process. Broad partnerships committed to bold action and persistent collaboration will be necessary. Different communities will have different issues and concerns, so local knowledge and priorities will be incorporated into regional planning for forest biomass residuals utilization.


Convene communities to listen to local concerns and use local knowledge with the goal of building a shared vision and mutual understanding about the need for and benefits of hazardous fuel management, and developing options that communities can choose for using forest biomass residuals for economic benefit while protecting and enhancing watersheds and ecosystems.

Conduct regionwide baseline assessments of the biophysical & socioeconomic landscape related to forest biomass residuals aggregation and utilization.

Develop a regional forest biomass residual utilization plan and identify solutions and strategic actions to implement the plan.

Evaluate the best uses of forest biomass residuals to benefit the local economy and ecosystems.

Establish a supply aggregation strategy for transforming residue from hazardous fuel reduction projects and other land management activities into feedstock for wood products businesses and bioenergy productions.

Support the development of new and the expansion of existing wood product businesses that use forest biomass residuals from hazardous fuel management projects.

Participate in and inform statewide strategies to develop low-carbon and carbon-negative bioenergy from forest biomass residuals.

Implement near-term community-scale bioenergy projects using existing technologies.

Advocate for policy and legislative solutions that support the development of appropriately scaled forest biomass residual utilization that supports local economies.

Support strategies for effective processing and use of forest biomass residuals on-site that reduces hazardous fuel loads while building healthy soil and forest habitat. This includes using portable kilns to make biochar.

References and Resources