Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental and Energy Policy (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Barry D. Solomon

Committee Member 1

Dennis R. Becker

Committee Member 2

Donald J. Lafreniere

Committee Member 3

Mark D. Rouleau

Committee Member 4

Adam M. Wellstead


Forestlands have been identified as a valuable resource to mitigate climate change due to the biome’s capacity to both sequester greenhouse gases and substitute for fossil fuels. Woody biomass has been proposed as a substitutable input for coalgenerated electricity as economies attempt to transition to renewable power while addressing economic development goals. However, increasing the intensity of forest management for energy production has the potential to result in significant ecological, economic and social consequences at local, regional and global scales. In this context, my dissertation explores the capacity of existing policy frameworks to stimulate and support sustainable power production from forest biomaterials. In Chapter Two, I explore the interactions between shifting goals, actors and institutions in influencing incentives that shape today’s policy mix for woody biopower production in Wisconsin. The study’s results reveal that the state’s shifting focus away from using renewable energy as a means to pursue climate change mitigation and energy security goals combined with an absence of supportive coalitions has resulted in the dismantling of support for the woody biopower policy framework. In Chapter Three, I use data from a household survey of Tomahawk, Wisconsin residents to evaluate support for woody biomass production for power generation. Results show that respondents in biomass producing communities are more supportive of biomass sources such as forestry residues and forestry thinnings than dedicated harvesting operations. In addition, the results indicate that using an xiii ecosystem services approach can help explain differences in support between these respondents and provide insights into socially acceptable forms of biomass harvesting operations. Chapter Four evaluates the use of sustainable forest management certification programs as a policy instrument to source sustainable woody biomass. The study evaluated the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification programs using bioenergy sustainability criteria found in the academic literature. The analysis shows a deficiency in these programs to address key criteria pertaining to climate change mitigation and would be improved by coupling sustainable forest management programs with bioenergy sustainability schemes such as designed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials.

Included in

Energy Policy Commons