A Spatially-Defined Comparison of Environmental, Economic, and Societal Factors Impacting Biomass Accessibility

Issue: Farms and forests as well as communities and their economies are part of the landscape. An available biomass supply is limited by constraints within the natural environments, built environments and social environments. These constraints affect the amount and type of biomass potentially available locally, as well as at the wider landscape scale.


Study Description: Though the total area of farms and forests in the eastern United States has been relatively stable in the last decade, demands on these lands from competing uses have intensified. There are a broad range of farm and forest types and management systems (demand for traditional farm and forest products, land uses, landowner attitudes, energy opportunities, and policies) that vary widely across the landscape.

This study investigates space and place to construct flexibility indices to identify essential indicators that detect landscape suitability and stability for biomass production. Landscape flexibility considers risk from competition, natural disasters and policy to differentiate likely biomass opportunity zones. The “landscape flexibility” index is a socio-economic-geographic probabilistic model that will improve methods to display and visualize the risk in the site location of biomass-using facilities.

Landscape flexibility indices will estimate the degree of physical or social occupation of an area of land. Results will provide sub-county spatially-defined comparisons of environmental, economic, and societal factors and predict opportunity zones with landscape flexibility and biomass access. Data, models and results from the 33 eastern states will be integrated into BioSAT analytical framework at http://www.biosat.net


  • Higher Resolution Regional Decision Support Tools
  • Mapping System to Identify Potential Sites
  • IIdentification of Opportunity Zones for Bioenergy Facilities.

The University of Tennessee; The Center for Renewable Carbon; Southeast Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS); The Southeastern Sun Grant Center; North Carolina State University; The University of Georgia, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; USDA; U.S. Department of Energy; U.S. Department of Transportation; U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and ArborGen.

Contacts: James H. Perdue—USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station