Deciphering support for woody biomass production for electric power using an ecosystem service framework

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Department of Social Sciences


There is well established literature that focuses on measuring the public (social) value of ecosystem services, alongside traditional economic valuations, with the aim of better informing natural resource management decision-making. However, few studies have considered the role of ecosystem service values directly in the context of the general public's support for specific natural resource management decisions and practices. This leaves open the possibility that policy makers and resource managers may be relying on criteria that have negligible influence on public preferences. In this paper, we consider this gap, by testing hypotheses concerning the public's willingness to support forest harvesting for biomass material that will facilitate electricity generation based on a survey of households in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, U.S. An ecosystem service valuation model was developed and subjected to multivariate statistical analyses (factor analysis and OLS linear regression). The findings show that respondents in biomass producing communities may be more supportive of biomass sources such as forestry residues and forest thinnings than dedicated energy wood harvesting operations. In addition, the findings indicate that using an ecosystem service approach can help explain differences in support between these respondents and provide insight into socially acceptable forms of biomass harvesting operations.

Publisher's Statement

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2020.102207

Publication Title

Forest Policy and Economics