Roundwood use by southern wood pellet mills: Findings from timber product output mill surveys
Between 2012 and 2017, southern wood pellet exports grew by approximately 180 percent, whereas the regions’ wood pellet mill capacity increased from 3.8 to 7.7 million tons over the same period. This capacity and production growth generates concerns regarding impacts on resource sustainability and to traditional forest industries that use feedstocks similar to those used by pellet mills. Information on wood pellet producers’ patterns and levels of roundwood consumption can help evaluate the potential impacts of the industry on the forest resource. We use mill-level data collected by the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis program to help characterize activity by southern wood pellet mills that consume roundwood. Our analysis shows that the volume of roundwood used for pellet production has increased, representing close to 2 percent of all southern timber products output and 27 percent of all industrial fuelwood output (excluding firewood) during 2015.